Photo taken on March 3, 2021 in Paris shows a European passport with a bottle of Covid-19 vaccine and a syringe.
As U.S. states continue to expand eligibility for the Chinese Communist virus (COVID-19) vaccine and more providers begin to require proof of vaccination, experts warn that fraudulent activity surrounding “vaccine passports” is increasing dramatically.
In many parts of the world, vaccine passports and certificates are touted as a sign of a return to normalcy in all industries. Consumers are already being asked to use vaccine passports as passes in many service industries, such as stadiums, movie theaters and international travel.
Scams surrounding CCP virus testing, protective equipment and CCP virus vaccines have been circulating on the Internet since the outbreak began. Now, experts are worried about the influx of fake vaccine certificates. Experts told ABC News that they are seeing an increase in fraudulent ads for vaccine certificates and passports on websites and online forums.
“Dark Web activity related to vaccines is booming,” said Ekram Ahmed, a spokesman for Check Point, a leading global Israeli cybersecurity firm, “and cybercriminals are seeking to take advantage of the public, both in terms of access to vaccines, but also avoidance of vaccines.”
“Covid vaccination certificates (for those who don’t want to be vaccinated),” says an ad found on the dark web, according to a report by Check Point.
“Not everyone will like the covid-19 vaccine and we will provide proof of having received the vaccine.” Another ad says.
Overall, the number of fraudulent vaccine-related ads has more than tripled since January, the Jebon report said.
“It’s only a matter of Time before Hackers find a way to organize fraudulent activity with digital passports,” Ahmed said, adding that “everyone has a digital passport in their hands, which could result in some serious fraud.”
Alex Holden, chief information security officer at Hold Security, a U.S. information security and investigations firm, said the counterfeit market means vaccine passports are likely to be targeted for abuse, similar to fake Chinese Communist virus kits and fake protective equipment.
Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an assistant professor of infectious disease Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, told ABC News that people who are hesitant to get vaccinated may turn to seeking fake vaccine passports or certificates.
“When you mandate the use of a vaccine passport, you’re essentially forcing individuals to get vaccinated, and there may be a greater tendency for those who may be uncomfortable or don’t want to get vaccinated to falsify information.” “It just makes these kinds of markets stronger,” Kupali said.
John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH), is more optimistic, believing that new tools like the vaccine passport will “benefit people who get vaccinated in their daily activities ” and that there is now a real opportunity to think about how these cards can truly be a form of immunity status; it is just important to make sure that the potential unintended consequences are understood.
In addition, many commentators have pointed out that because most vaccine passports will come in the form of smartphone apps, people’s private health information will be at risk of being exposed. This is because smartphone apps must link to a database containing relevant vaccine or test information.
Concerned about freedom and privacy, Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, announced Monday that he will take executive action to ensure that his state does not have to use vaccine passports.
As of now, New York is the only state in the U.S. to officially announce the use of digital vaccine passports.