The dark web offers fake vaccines with the names of different pharmaceutical companies, with prices ranging from $ 120 ($ 98.4) to over $ 1,000.

Although millions of people have already been vaccinated against covid-19 in rich countries, online fraud abounds with fake drugs that pose a major health risk, warned United Nations experts.

Internet fraud has skyrocketed because there is a demand that is not met by legal means and the rush or despair of some people to become immunized leads them to the illegal market, writes the agency Efe.

The dark web offers fake vaccines with the names of different pharmaceutical companies, with prices ranging from $ 120 ($ 98.4) to over $ 1,000.

These products, if any, may contain toxic material that is very harmful to health.

“I believe that many of these vaccines do not exist at all: It is a fraud in the strict sense. If you buy, you get nothing. It is a very easy way to try to make money,” Neil Walsh, the United Nations’ leading expert on cybercrime, told Efe. .

“And if you get something, you can be sure that it won’t be the real vaccine. At best it will be a placebo and at worst it may have harmful chemicals,” said Walsh, director of the agency’s cybercrime program. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNIDO).

Even in the unlikely event that it was a package of stolen authentic vaccines, it was certainly not kept in sanitary conditions for its use – like the cold chain – stressed the expert.

Walsh said he never encountered authentic vaccines in the Web underworld, although he acknowledged that his department needs the means to track all angles in depth.

Many of these frauds with fake or non-existent products are not just intended to earn a few hundred dollars, but to access something much more valuable: the personal data of buyers.

“One of the easiest products to sell in the cybercriminal world is personal data. If someone has your email, name, date of birth, address and phone number, all of that data together is very useful for criminals looking to take over your identity, “he said.

In addition to fraud, Walsh’s concern is misinformation and the negative effects that these fake drugs can have when generating doubts about authentic vaccines.

The advice: never buy these vaccines on the internet and use common sense.

“If neither governments were able to access vaccines or buy them, how did I find one on the net?”, summed up the UN expert.

The problem with counterfeit drugs predates the pandemic. UNODD has been denouncing for years that organized crime earns billions of dollars from selling fake drugs.

About 80% of these fraudulent drugs are sold in developing countries in Africa and Asia, the majority coming from Asia.

A 2017 World Health Organization (WHO) investigation found that one in 10 drugs in developing countries was counterfeit, which was behind the deaths of tens of thousands of people each year.

“Covid has given a boost to the fake drug market, not only because there is now more, but also because it has opened up new markets, like the western one, where you can earn a lot of money,” Angela Me, chief research and analysis researcher, explained to Efe at UNIDO.

The expert said that organized crime always takes advantage of the gap between supply and demand.

And he recalled that fraud with basic sanitary products proliferated in the spring because they were scarce, but as the legal industry covered the need, the decoys disappeared.

Reported by SIC Read here