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Demand for fake COVID vaccine cards rises as warrants approach – NBC Chicago


What there is to know

  • New research shows the cost, number of counterfeiters, and buyers dramatically increased on the Telegram messaging app after Biden’s tenure was announced in September.
  • Unauthorized use of the seal of a government agency is illegal at the federal level, which means that fake vaccination cards can result in fines and up to 5 years in prison in addition to local laws.
  • Experts claim that potential buyers of illegal cards could also put their personal information at risk and in the hands of unreported sellers.

On September 9, President Biden made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for nearly 100 million Americans. The mandate demanded that all employers with more than 100 workers require that they be vaccinated or tested weekly for the virus in an effort to prevent the delta variant from flourishing.

Following the order, there was an increase in both the demand and supply of counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards on social media, new research shows. According to Check Point Research, the cost, the number of counterfeiters and buyers have increased dramatically on the Telegram messaging app.

In August, CPR found 1,000 sellers, 15,000 members per Telegram group, and the cards were selling for around $ 100. The day after Biden’s tenure, those numbers jumped to 10,000 vendors, 85,000 members per group, and $ 200 for a fake card.

Previously, the cards were sold mostly on the dark web, but Telegram, with a focus on encryption and user privacy, appeals to providers with its anonymity, reach and scale, making it the platform. ideal shape for counterfeit groups to thrive everywhere. the world.

What people don’t understand is that they are bad actors and these bad actors will seek to take advantage of poor souls who think they are doing themselves a favor.

Brian Linder, cybersecurity expert at Check Point Research

Brian Linder, a cybersecurity expert at Check Point Research, said Telegram was vague in its response to stop the trend.

“They made a generic statement. They said they had a policy to delete personal data shared without consent, ”Linder said. “They don’t choose a political camp. They don’t go after illegal CDC immunization cards. They are making a generic statement about how they try to ensure quality on their platform, but by no means are they suggesting that they are going to try to remove or stop these transactions. “

Unauthorized use of the seal of a government agency is illegal at the federal level, which means that fake vaccination cards can result in fines and up to 5 years in prison in addition to local laws. But, there are other consequences that buyers should be aware of.

Linder said sellers of fake vaccination cards are likely to take the personal information provided to them to fabricate the cards and resell the data on the dark web to the highest bidder.

“What people don’t understand is that these are bad actors and these bad actors are going to seek to take advantage of poor souls who think they are doing themselves a favor,” he said.


Getty Images

An example of a digital vaccination passport. The certificate states that the holder has been vaccinated against COVID-19 and is verifiable with a QR code.

Currently, the barrier to entry into the fake card business is low, requiring only minimal Photoshop skills, card stock, and a printer. As the need for vaccines increases, the fake cards will only increase, according to the CPR. Linder said the way to prevent people from faking their immunization status is to use a government-wide digital system like those implemented by other countries that make verification possible.

China, Israel, Japan and many countries in the European Union have implemented vaccine passports that have helped both verify vaccination status and lead residents to real vaccinations.

Daily vaccinations per million people

Countries with strict mandates and verifiable immunization tracking systems tend to have more daily immunizations.

Israel temporarily lifted its passport requirements and then reinstated them after an increase in the number of cases. Passports are also enforced in parts of the UK such as Wales and Scotland.

Compared to countries with verifiable immunization systems, the United States lags behind in immunization.

Percentage of the population fully vaccinated against COVID

The United States lags behind in immunization compared to countries with better immunization tracking systems.

Some states like New York have tried experimenting with a digitally verifiable vaccine passport, but many conservative states have resisted or have banned passports outright. The governor of Florida, for example, is opposed to any kind of warrant or vaccine tracking.

Linder says we see an uphill battle as long as proof of vaccination is processed at the state level.

“You envision 50 different states, all manipulating in 50 different ways,” Linder said.

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