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Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Scammers try a dark approach with coronavirus vaccine scams

Now that vaccines are available, scammers are attempting to fleece people another way: offering vaccines on the dark web.

There’s no shortage of the ways a scammer could attempt to fleece you out of details and money, but they’re not shy to try, that’s for sure. And if you think you’ve seen them all, you might want to think again.

Text messages masquerading as retailers is one thing, as is pretending to be the NBN, but attempting to sell you an illegally obtained vaccine, well that’s something entirely different.

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are gradually making their way out to the world, scammers are approaching victims with something else — something clued in — with one that lures you into handing over money for an early spot for a vaccine. So early that the cybercriminals is effectively trying to sell you an “official” vaccine for the coronavirus.

It’s something Kaspersky’s research has found, with 15 marketplaces looked at on the underbelly of the web, with advertisements for three of the vaccines being found on certain sellers, purportedly offering the Pfizer, the AstraZeneca, and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

As to whether what’s being offered is legit, that’s something Kaspersky couldn’t say, but the expectation is that while it’s possible you could receive something in the mail, it likely wouldn’t be an effective dose — it could be something else entirely that you’re being asked to inject yourself with — and obtaining vaccines in this way is also illegal.

“You can find just about anything on the Darknet, so it’s not surprising sellers there would attempt to capitalise on the vaccination campaign,” said Dmitry Galov, Security Expert for Kaspersky.

“Over the past year, there have been a whole host of scams exploiting the COVID topic, and many of them have been successful,” he said. “It’s important for users to be cautious of any “deal” related to the pandemic, and, of course, it’s never a good idea to buy a vaccine off the Darknet.”

The idea of vaccines for sale should read like a scam to anyone who encounters it, but know that if you’re thinking of going this way, it’s very likely to be highly dubious, and fishy, or even phishy.

The latter of these words — “phishy” — plays on one of the tactics scammers commonly embrace, which is to fish for details by building a phishing site, a type of website designed to look like legit, but is anything but. In the case of vaccines, a phishing site could look like a government website — because vaccines will be handed out by governments — but we could even end up seeing phishing sites built to imitate large pharmaceutical companies.

However the point is this: if someone offers to sell you a vaccine, don’t fall for it. That’s not how the vaccine program works, and aside for being illegal, it’s likely that you’re being hit with a scam, and potentially about to hand over your details to criminals.

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