The cost of counterfeit vaccine cards doubled after President Joe Biden announced that businesses with more than 100 employees must require workers to get their shots.
Fake cards cost about $100 before the announcement and $200 the day after the announcement, and the Israeli security firm Check Point says the number of sellers jumped from around 1,000 to 10,000, while subscribers flocked to Telegram groups on the topic, reported The Daily Beast.
"It's clear to us they're using current events to galvanize the market," said Ekram Ahmed, a spokesperson for Check Point, which was founded by an elite cyber unit of Israel's military intelligence.
Counterfeit cards have turned up across mainstream sites such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Facebook and Instagram, as well as shadier corners of the darknet and deep web, and anyone who buys one that displays an official government seal is committing a felony that carries a potential five-year prison term.
Consumers have been buying the fake cards directly from sellers on Telegram and elsewhere as vaccines have been mandated by business owners, employers, local governments and schools, but Biden's announcement has altered the market."The market for fake vaccine cards established itself in early 2021 alongside the official rollout of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines," a spokesperson the security firm Flashpoint, which monitors criminal chatter on the deep web. "The initial discussions across threat actor communities were not high in volume, but we did observe an uptick in conversations starting in July."