The law was followed, and the snare was set. We first saw it during pandemics with the illegal sale of masks and medical supplies. Then there were drugs ostensibly effective against the coronavirus, as well as the sale of ostensibly effective vaccines on the dark web. Now it’s the covid passport’s turn. Countries from Europe and other continents have been requesting the coronavirus vaccination card as a requirement for entry into the country for months. A negative PCR or antigen test is also an option. However, criminals have already begun to move, and the number of false certificates has risen with the arrival of summer.
The digital green certificate happens to be the proof that a person has been vaccinated that governments require. Despite the fact that the vaccination rate is stable and thousands of people are vaccinated every day, there is still much to be done. And there are some people for whom she is unwilling to wait until her immunisation record is complete. According to a Check Point Research report, the number of false certificate advertisements is on the rise, with the majority of them coming from the dark web. Specifically, from dark web groups with a membership of 70,000 to 500,000 people.
Prices range from 100 to 150 euros for covid passports from countries such as Switzerland, Holland, and Greece.Those that still allow the certificate to be displayed on paper instead of or in addition to the QR code. EusebioNieva, Check Point Software’s technical director for Spain and Portugal, told Hipertextual that falsifying a QR code, such as the one requested in most European countries, is much more difficult.“You have no choice but to show that common certificate if you come from a European country. However, you can claim that you have been to Canada or Russia and have been vaccinated there, and you can show a paper certificate.”
One of the main issues that happens to facilitate the sale of fake covid passports, according to Nieva, is that many countries have not agreed on a common document. “The diversity of documents and ways of demonstrating it is a benefit for criminals because what they want to do in the end is create certificates that look real,” he said. In many cases, they are successful. Checkpoint Research experts discovered that many of the criminals who sell counterfeit passports on the dark web have previously sold legitimate documents such as passports or driver’s licences. He cautioned, “They are not amateurs.”
Fake covid passports, also on Telegram
Fake Covid passports can be purchased through dark web groups. It used to be marketplaces, till a hack twisted everything on its head. One of the sites that sold vaccines, vaccination cards, PCR tests, and covid certificates was hacked, according to Checkpoint Research’s report. As a result, communication with sellers was shifted to dark web chat rooms. Telegram channels to also.
One of the channels through which covid passports are sold has been discovered by Hypertext.
The creators of the channel offer the QR code if the person requesting the fake certificate has been vaccinated contrary to the coronavirus, has recuperated from the disease, or has been tested negative in a RTPCR test for a charge of 250 euros.Clearly, the group could be a con, as has been the case in the past with announcements of coronavirus vaccines that never made it to their intended recipients.
To begin with, it is a small channel (as of the date of publication of this article, it has 45 subscribers), and they state that the green certificate will be added to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control’s database (ECDC). In an interview, EusebioNieva clarified that each country has its own database, which is then synchronised with the ECDC’s.“A false certificate could be added to a vulnerable database in a country. Because the risk use to multiply if a database is poorly protected.” However, according to Nieva, there is currently no reliable evidence that one of these databases has been hacked.
Despite the possibility that the Telegram channel is fake, Check Point Software’s technical director for Spain and Portugal warned that the identity of anyone who uses a QR code should always be verified. He added, “There has to be a procedure to verify that the data in the QR code matches that of the person presenting it.”
Where there is supply, there is demand
For the time being, the sale of fake Covid passports is not causing concern in the European Union or in Spain, one of the eurozone’s countries with the highest vaccination rate. It is true, however, that where there was once a seller, there are now 500. “That means there is a market for it, that there is a demand for it, and that people are using it. “That is the signal,” Nieva cautioned.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between a real and a fake PCR document in many cases.
They sell certificates, vaccination cards, and negative PCR tests in addition to certificates and vaccination cards. Because it is easier to falsify documents in this case, the risk may be greater.Finally, it’s a laboratory role that can usually be duplicated. Checkpoint Research confirmed that distinguishing a fake PCR document from a genuine one can be difficult in many cases. Especially if it originates from another country.
In all cases, the method of selling fake PCR tests use to be the same (Telegram groups or dark web chats).Although there isn’t yet a warning for these fakes, the consequences could be disastrous. It’s important to remember that anyone who buys a fake covid certificate, a fake vaccination record, or a fake PCR test is desperate. It could be because you tested positive for coronavirus and decided to purchase a second false test that certifies a negative. If you manage to travel with that document, you may infect the rest of the group.