Aug 7, 2021 - Health

Fake vaccine cards emerge in U.S., E.U. as vaccine mandates loom

A healthcare worker holds a Covid-19 vaccination card during an event hosted by the Miami Heat at the FTX Arena in Miami, Florida, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021.
A healthcare worker holds a Covid-19 vaccination card during an event hosted by the Miami Heat at the FTX Arena in Miami on Thursday, Aug. 5. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Proof-of-vaccination requirements in the United States and Europe have spurred a new market for counterfeit certificates, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: Illegitimate vaccine cards have multiplied on social-media sites, messaging apps and on the dark web in recent weeks, per The Wall Street Journal.

  • "As a segment of the population tries to avoid the new measures, the dark net reacts to the real market and thus demand gives birth to offers," Dmitry Galov, a researcher at cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, told the WSJ.

Driving the news: In the United States, fake vaccine cards have emerged on Amazon, eBay and Etsy, per the WSJ.

  • Individuals have also been arrested for selling fake vaccination cards in person, including in California, where a bar owner was arrested for allegedly charging $2o for counterfeit vaccination cards, per the WSJ.
  • The vaccination card issued in the United States, which is a small white card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is easy to forge, per security experts, according to the WSJ.

In countries in the European Union, where a digital certificate with a dedicated QR code for each person serves as a vaccination card, fake certificates are also on the rise.

  • In Italy, for instance, about 30 social media profiles have popped up that purport to sell fake certificates, about 500 of which have been sold in the past few months.
  • Most of the fraudulent cards emerge on the platform Telegram, which shuts down channels selling fake certificates when asked to by the Italian government, per the WSJ.
  • "At least by shutting down the accounts, we have momentarily stopped the phenomenon," Eugenio Fusco, a Milan prosecutor who has investigated the fraudulent certificates, told the WSJ.
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