- A new report has revealed that bad actors are selling fake COVID-19 vaccine certificates and jabs in exchange for BTC, ETH and other popular cryptocurrencies.
- An investigation revealed that the actors took advantage of exchanges with limited or no KYC.
A new report by blockchain analytics company Coinfirm has revealed that fraudsters have adopted a new tactic to steal from investors. Operating on the dark web, scammers are selling fake COVID-19 vaccine certificates and stolen vaccines. Like most transactions on the dark web, the fraudsters are receiving payments in cryptocurrencies. Among the most popular cryptocurrencies being used are Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), DASH, Litecoin (LTC), Tron (TRX), Monero (XMR) and Zcash (ZEC).
The investigation revealed that the fraudsters have found a way to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Desperate to get vaccines and vaccine certificates, scammers are offering vaccines and fake vaccine certificates to buyers on the darknet. The firm identified “COVID-19 Vaccine Shop”, as one of the more popular sellers. The person or group is offering (in bulk) different types of vaccines including, AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BionTech, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Sputnik V.
A majority of the addresses have been traced back to Russia, with the US coming second. Further analysis revealed that the sellers have found high demand from Eastern European countries. In one of the fraudsters addresses, investigations revealed that it had received over $40,000 in less than a year. The report has identified non-compliant exchanges as one of the main reasons for the recent upsurge;
A BTC address found receiving funds for fraudulent vaccine certificates Coinfirm has analyzed, 1MEPCZZkXSf5n3FEZBb3WiyDzRv6ytxFWt, demonstrates the issue that crypto exchanges with limited to no KYC (Know Your Customer) present to stemming the tide of illicit funds by offering an easy fiat on/off ramp for criminals to cash out their trade.
With crypto-assets popular than ever, crypto-related scams have risen astronomically in the last few years. In 2020, cryptocurrency usage on the darknet reached its peak surpassing $1.5 billion. Although in terms of adoption Bitcoin is higher, on the dark web, privacy-focused coins led by Monero are more popular.