New Requirements in the Wake of Omicron have led to Increased Dark Market Activity Around Fake Covid Certificates

By : Nata Kesuma | Tuesday, January 18 2022 - 22:10 IWST

Check Point Software Technologies (Images by Acclaim)
Check Point Software Technologies (Images by Acclaim) - Check Point Research has warned of a resurgence in counterfeit test and vaccination certificates amid a new wave of infections driven by the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Forged certificate vendors have increased their activity in recent weeks as countries around the world introduce or reinforce measures to control the spread of the new variant.

The European Union has had a COVID-19 passport scheme in place since July 2021, with many other nations, including certain US states, following suit. International travel has also once again become heavily dependent on vaccination or test status, with countries around the world tightening their rules around quarantine. Some countries such as Austria and Germany now require double vaccinated people to also present a negative PCR/Antigen test.

The high transmissibility and rapid spread of the Omicron variant, combined with issues around the resourcing and supply of rapid lateral flow and PCR tests, has created a new gap in the market that fraudsters are once again looking to exploit. According to Check Point Research (CPR), at least one group that was active during the Delta variant wave but went quiet in October 2021, has resurfaced to exploit the situation.

Potential customers could be either people who have tested positive, refused to take a test or are unwilling to have the vaccine, instead choosing to search the internet looking for alternatives. Innocent users can also fall victim, being lured to fraudulent or suspicious domains while looking for genuine guidance and advice.

CPR also discovered a dramatic increase in the amount of money changing hands for fraudulent vaccination or test certificates. Shortly after the initial announcement of vaccination certificates in 2021, counterfeit PCR and antigen test certificates were typically selling for US$75 to US$100 (£100 – £135). In this latest awakening of the dark market, those same documents are priced between US$200 and US$600 (£270 – £450), representing an increase of up to 600%.

Liad Mizrachi, Security Expert at Check Point Software, commented: “Without a centralised system in place for test and vaccine certification, it’s very easy for scammers to exploit the current situation to their advantage. That’s certainly what we’re seeing here, with some fraudster groups that have been dormant for months resurfacing to reap what they can from changing pandemic landscape. Countries around the world have tightened their restrictions, asking citizens to produce negative test results or proof of vaccination status before being allowed to enter large venues and gatherings, and international travel has once again been made more difficult due to surging cases. This, combined with test kit supply issues and general vaccine hesitancy, has created a perfect storm for scammers. They’re once again operating with quiet confidence, as evidenced by the bold and dramatic increase in prices we’re seeing on the dark market. Governments need to come together quickly in order to combat this latest dark market surge or risk seeing counterfeit documents increase in number over the coming weeks and months.”

News Comment

Today's Industry

NORD-DuoDrive.jpg: The innovative and patented DuoDrive geared motor reaches outstanding system efficiency Image: NORD DRIVESYSTEMS

Selasa, 17 Mei 2022 - 14:00 WIB

NORD DRIVESYSTEMS at LogiMAT in Stuttgart From 31st May to 2nd June 2022 NORD will present innovative drive solutions for intralogistics

The specialist LogiMAT exhibition in Stuttgart offers as comprehensive overview of the intralogistics and process management market. As one of the market leaders for drive technology, NORD presents…

President Jokowi attends the meeting between ASEAN leaders and American entrepreneurs at Intercontinental the Willard Hotel, Washington DC, Thursday (05/12). Photo by: Laily Rachev

Selasa, 17 Mei 2022 - 13:00 WIB

President Jokowi Invites US CEOs to Boost Cooperation with Indonesia

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has invited company CEOs in the United States to boost cooperation with ASEAN countries, particularly Indonesia.

President Jokowi, President Biden, and ASEAN Leaders on a group photo prior to the dinner, at the White House, Washington D.C., Thursday (05/12)

Selasa, 17 Mei 2022 - 12:28 WIB

President Jokowi, ASEAN Leaders Attend Dinner Hosted by US President

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo Thursday (05/12) attended a dinner with the leaders of ASEAN countries hosted by President of the United States Joe Biden at the White House, Washington D.C.

(Photo: © 2022 KRAIBURG TPE)

Selasa, 17 Mei 2022 - 11:23 WIB

TPE unleashes benefits for pet accessories

The pet care market is rapidly expanding as pet ownership increases, as does spending on pet food, grooming tools, and accessories. Pet owners are significantly concerned about the prevalence…

Sergey Sedov, Founder and CEO of Robocash Group

Jumat, 13 Mei 2022 - 16:15 WIB

Robocash Group reached 2 BN USD of disbursement and issued audited financial report of 2021

Robocash Group publishes the audited combined financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2021. The Group reached an all-time high 2 BN USD of issued financing and is expected to increase…