September 16, 2021 6:52:03 pm
As India and many other countries race to get more citizens vaccinated, fake vaccination certificates continue to become a bigger problem than ever. Beginning soon after vaccines became a way to bypass travel restrictions, fake vaccine certifications and test reports are now more easily available. A new report by Check Point Research suggests that faker vaccine certifications have now evolved into a whole industry.
The report reveals that fake vaccination certificates and fake test results of 29 different countries, including India, are being sold on Telegram, with the price of a single fake certificate in India amounting to $75 or about Rs 5,500.
Why people are resorting to fake vaccination certificates?
Amidst the ongoing pandemic, travel restrictions are at large in India and across many countries in the world. This is done to minimise human contact and further aid the spread of the virus. However, vaccination certificates and negative test reports have become ways to bypass some of these travel restrictions as those who are completely vaccinated and subsequently, inoculated are reportedly less prone to succumbing to the virus and propagating it further.
In India, various state governments have mandated certain regulations for those undertaking inter-state travel by road or air to mitigate the further spread of the virus. Travelers are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result (RT-PCR report) or a vaccination certificate to enter states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
These states have seen a large influx of tourists following the second wave of the pandemic in India. These regulations may have resulted in the demand for and availability of fake test results and vaccine certificates in the black market from those who do not wish to be vaccinated.
Telegram becoming a faster and more convenient platform for fake certifications
The report adds that back in March 2021, most of the fake coronavirus certificates were advertised on the Darknet. Now with a larger influx of people who are engaged in both the creation and usage of these fake documents, the process has come to Telegram, an instant messaging platform, which is much more accessible and faster than the Darknet.
“Check Point Software has been studying the Darknet and Telegram for coronavirus-related activities all year. Vendors are choosing to advertise and do business on Telegram because Telegram is less technical to use compared to the Darknet, allowing them to reach an inordinate amount of people, fast,” Oded Vanunu, Head of Products Vulnerability Research at CPR says.
“There are people who don’t want to take the vaccine, but still want the freedoms that come with being vaccinated such as access to places. These people are turning to the Darknet and Telegram. Since March 2021, prices for fake vaccination cards have dropped by half and online groups for these fraudulent coronavirus services boast followings of hundreds of thousands of people. I strongly recommend people to not engage these sellers for anything, as these vendors are after more than just selling you fake vaccination cards,” Vanunu adds.
The report also suggests that the number of people creating fake vaccination certificates has grown “exponentially” going from about 1,000 sellers in August 2021 to approximately 10,000 sellers in September 2021.
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