Fraudsters are attempting to sell fake vaccines allegedly manufactured using the blood of patients who have recovered from COVID-19.
The nonsense vaccines were among a crock of utter dog wings spotted for sale on the dark web by researchers from the Australian National University’s Cybercrime Observatory. Researchers were trawling dark net markets for coronavirus-related medical products and supplies for a report released April 30 by the Australian Institute of Criminology.
A survey of 20 underground markets turned up 645 listings of 222 items from 110 unique vendors across 12 sites. The total estimated value of all the items was $369,000.
While scientists around the world strive to create a proven vaccine for COVID-19, the dark net claims to have plenty available. Of the 645 items found by researchers, 6% were products falsely claiming to be effective vaccines against the deadly virus.
“COVID-19 cure vaccine. Keep quiet on this,” read one such listing, while another announced “COVID-19 antidote is here from China.”
Any victims tricked into buying one of these fake vaccines would have paid on average $AUS575 for their purchase. However, one vaccine, purportedly sourced from China, where the first animal-to-human transmission of COVID-19 took place, was on sale for between $US10K and $15K.
Researchers warned that the dangers of fake vaccines go beyond individual victims’ being ripped off financially.
“First, fake vaccines could worsen the spread of the virus because users may behave as if immune but nevertheless become infected. Second, the premature release of vaccines undergoing animal or human trials would also misguide users as to their immunity, but may also impact the success of these crucial clinical trials.”
Nearly half of all unique listings and a third of the total listings were composed of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, gowns, sanitizers, and gloves. One listing offered 10,000 “good quality lab tested face mask for corona” for the sum of $17,952.
Most vendors claimed to be shipping from the United States.
Happily, researchers came across one dark net marketplace where the sale of COVID-related products has been banned for ethical reasons. On the site was posted the message: “You do not, under any circumstances, use COVID-19 as a marketing tool. No magical cures, no silly f***ing mask selling, toilet paper selling. None of that bullsh*t. We have class here.”