Telegram Become the Main Sales Channel for Fake COVID-19 Certificates

The sale of fake vaccination certificates from COVID-19 is gaining momentum in the world. Instead of getting a drug dose, people prefer to spend money on fake certificates.

The price for such a service is around $250. In this article, we will tell you the details.

We have already told you that a coronavirus vaccine is sold on the Darknet. Details can be found here.

Check Point investigation details

The cybersecurity research division of Check Point has published a new report on the scale of the black market for fake vaccination certificates organized on Telegram. According to experts, there are currently more than 2,500 active groups and channels selling fake vaccination certificates from different countries worldwide. Furthermore, analysts point out that since March 2021, the volume of the black market in the messenger has increased by 257%.

Telegram sells fake COVID certificates

You should know that Telegram is not the securest messaging app. Find out more here.

Groups and channels that sell fake documents have thousands of participants: about 100,000 subscribers on average. The largest channel has 450,000 subscribers. On average, they ask for $100 for a certificate, and, of course, they sell it for cryptocurrency. All you need to do to make a purchase is tell the sellers what country you are from. Check Point reports that most sellers are focused on European countries.

“Our researchers have found fake certificates from all over the world, most of which come from Europe — NHS, EUDCC (EU COVID Digital Certificate) and other countries such as Greece, Netherlands, Italy, France, Switzerland, USA, Pakistan, Indonesia,” the report says.

Experts noted that they had previously recorded a lot of ads for the sale of fakes on the Darknet, but in recent months they have noticed that many merchants have migrated to Telegram.

“The move to Telegram has become the most obvious change in the black market of coronavirus-related services,” says an analyst. “We think that the service providers chose Telegram to find new customers while maintaining some degree of privacy.”

Why is Telegram used?

The expert also noted that the messenger allows you to reach many people quickly, unlike the Darknet. Although the platform prohibits three types of content — spam and fraud, messages promoting violence, and the distribution of pornography — nevertheless, online casinos and dubious fintech projects are actively advertised there, and now fake documents are being sold. And porn materials are quietly posted in private groups and chats. 

Telegram explicitly states that it “does not process any requests” about content in groups, including illegal activities.

What is the Darknet, and why is it so popular on the net? Read more here.

Sellers of “gray” certificates assure the authenticity of the items and often play on people’s emotions, appealing to those who do not want or are afraid to be vaccinated. They offer to contact them via Telegram, WhatsApp, or email to carry out the transaction and make payments via PayPal and cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Monero, Dogecoin, and others.)

“We have often seen such statements: ‘You don’t need to get an injection to get a certificate,’ ‘We are here to save the world from this poisonous vaccine,’ ‘Stay away from the vaccine and save yourself while we continue this fight,’” the analyst continues. 

“I believe that Telegram’s management should take a close look at this whole situation and assess whether their content moderation policy requires it because I expect that the black market there will only grow and grow.”

Check Point has no data on how many people buy certificates. But judging by the number of subscribers in groups and channels, there are a lot of them.

The example of fake COVID certificate

“The existence, distribution, and market hype that we see daily in Telegram give us good reason to believe that the market is scaling,” he summed up.

Which platforms still sell certificates?

Telegram is not the only platform used by sellers of fake vaccination cards, and others could easily be found on Etsy.

In addition, ads for similar cards and stickers created by Redbubble and the Bonanza marketplace continued to appear on Google Shopping (by the time of writing, all mentions had been deleted.) 

Telegram did not respond to requests for comment. People often use Telegram to sell illegal goods, but the proliferation of fake vaccination cards poses a unique risk, undermining ongoing efforts to contain the pandemic — which has claimed the lives of millions of people to date.

How can you protect yourself on the internet during coronavirus and remote work? Learn more here.


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