Fake Vaccine Card Vendors Multiply Into Thousands After Biden's New Mandate: Study

The number of fake COVID-19 vaccine card vendors has risen into the thousands following President Joe Biden's new vaccine requirement for over 100 million workers across the nation.

On Thursday, Biden announced that he was directing the U.S. Department of Labor to develop an emergency rule that will require employers with 100 or more employees to require vaccines or they will have to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

During a press briefing, Biden also announced that he was mandating COVID-19 vaccines for Medicare and Medicaid healthcare providers, federal employees and federal contractors.

Shortly after the announcement, Biden faced backlash from many, including the Republican National Committee, which said it plans to file a lawsuit against the requirements.

Biden's announcement also led to an increase in online vendors selling fraudulent COVID-19 vaccine cards, according to new research from Check Point Software Technologies.

In August, Check Point published a blog post saying that its team of researchers continued to monitor the "dark marketplace" in search of fake COVID-19 vaccine cards. The research from August found that the cards were being sold for around $100. Ekram Ahmed, a spokesperson for Check Point, told Newsweek that researchers found about 800 to 900 vendors selling fake COVID-19 vaccine cards.

Ahmed said on Friday that a team of researchers at Check Point found that the price of the fraudulent cards has remained the same, but the number of vendors has increased "exponentially" to over 10,000 as of Friday.

According to Ahmed, Check Point's team of researchers has continued to monitor the dark web for fraudulent vaccine cards over the past few months, but he noted that the vendors have shifted to using the social media messaging app Telegram instead.

"You kind of need special software, you need to be tech-savvy to even navigate the dark net," Ahmed said. "What happened was a macro shift from the dark net to Telegram and there was this consumerization of the market."

Ahmed also provided Newsweek with a screenshot of a conversation a Check Point researcher had with a fake COVID-19 vaccine card seller, showing that it was being sold for $100. Most of the vendors accept payments for the cards via PayPal or with Bitcoin and they are sent to buyers mostly through email, Ahmed said.

While the number of fake COVID-19 vaccine card vendors has increased "exponentially" following Biden's announcement, Ahmed said that Check Point has noticed similar increases in the past following other vaccine mandates.

"So there is a correlation between the vaccine mandate policies that are being rolled out and the black market. What I've noticed is that there's been a spike in the number of vendors that fled into the market every time a major city announces [a vaccine requirement]," Ahmed said. "This 10,000 figure was nowhere on our radar until today, and so I think it does have to do exactly with the announcement that we saw in the last 24 hours from the Biden White House.

"Here's what I expect: the more the government gets strict about mandating these vaccines, the more the black market for these services will thrive."

COVID-19 Vaccine
Research firm Check Point Software Technologies has found an increase in the number of vendors selling fake COVID-19 vaccine cards on the dark web, following President Joe Biden's new mandate. Above, a healthcare worker fills out a vaccine card at a community healthcare center in Los Angeles, California, on August 11, 2021. Robyn Beck/Getty