CLEVELAND (WJW)– The FOX 8 I-Team found dangerous deals online with ads trying to get you to buy the COVID-19 vaccine, fake cards saying you’ve had the shot or fake documents saying you’ve tested negative.
So, we investigated and quickly discovered why you should watch out. You can find all of these deals advertised on what’s called the dark web. In other words, the back alleys of the internet.
An online black market has exploded with offers to sell you the same life-saving drugs you can get in a shot for free at your neighborhood clinic. We connected with Brian Linder from CheckPoint, an international cyber-security firm.
“It’s absolutely a profitable black market,” he said.
CheckPoint has tracked this for months. Ads offer vials of the vaccine for a few hundred dollars up to $1,000. Checkpoint is finding more ads even though people often can now get a shot without making an appointment. So, somebody must be paying.
But, if you order online, no telling what you’ll actually get if you get anything at all.
“We are not surprised by these advertisements we’ve seen for the vials. What is surprising is that anyone would put their health at risk, or their family’s health, by injecting this,” Linder said.
“We tried to buy a vial early on. We got nothing. They took our money. Never heard from them again.”
We responded to ads by phone and by email, but we got no response.
Dr. Amy Edwards gave us some good, old-fashioned common sense advice.
“Well, there’s a lot of danger,” she said. She spoke to us about what you might get in the mail, if anything.
“Most likely it would be water or saline, which is salt water. But there are crazy people out there. How can you know they’re not gonna ship you something poisonous than can kill you?” Edwards said.
Investigators said selling the COVID-19 vaccine online is illegal. But if you get taken, don’t expect justice.
“You can’t trust anyone on the dark web,” Linder said. He told us CheckPoint saw the underground market start trying to sell vaccines back when it was hard for most folks to get a shot.
Now, the black market is pushing those counterfeit documents showing fake test results and fake records for shots that people might need to be able to travel or get jobs.
Outside a shot clinic in downtown Cleveland, a woman from Cleveland Heights showed us she had just received her first COVID shot. She reacted to our findings about what’s for sale on the web.
“That’s scary. That’s definitely scary,” she said.
And, outside that same shot clinic, Johnathan Buffington said,
“I wouldn’t go near that. I feel they’d just take my money,” Johnathan Buffington said outside the shot clinic.
“These cyber criminals are asking to capitalize on the public getting the vaccine, or not getting the vaccine,” Linder said.