MONDAY, Feb. 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Online COVID-19 vaccine scams are becoming more widespread, security experts warn.

In the last six weeks, there has been a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 vaccine ads on the “dark web” — which connects unidentified buyers with anonymous sellers — and the asking prices have doubled or even quadrupled, Mark Ostrowski, head of engineering for the cybersecurity company Check Point, toldCBS News.

Searches conducted by his team revealed a wide range of offers, including a deal of 14 doses for $300 — or $200 below the original $500 price — that came with a promise of a 100 percent refund if the doses did not arrive. Another seller offered a bulk discount of 10,000 bottles of vaccine for $30,000, and another was asking $1,500 for four doses of a “Chinese vaccine.” Ostrowski’s team even sent a Bitcoin payment to one seller to see what would happen. “Our expectations were low, and, of course, they weren’t met,” Ostrowski said.

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As far as he can tell, none of the sellers actually has COVID-19 vaccines,CBS News再保险ported. In December, INTERPOL warned law enforcement in 194 countries about organized crime groups targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online.

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