As soon as the FDA granted emergency regulatory approval to Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, the number of listings on black market websites claiming to sell doses skyrocketed.
It’s worth clarifying that these vaccines are all-but-certainly fake, Business Insider reports. So you absolutely should not go waste your money. But the uptick in these predatory listings are preying on a troubling reality: that it will still be several months before the vaccine will be offered to the general public, meaning hucksters are trying to cash in on a glimpse of hope.
Researchers at the security company Check Point Software found that suspect coronavirus vaccines have already begun to appear on black market sites, often for between $250 and $300 per dose. While the researchers didn’t actually buy any, they’re confident that the vaccines aren’t real because of the tightly-controlled supply of doses in the U.S. and the fact that many listings made dubious claims, like that a single person needed 14 injections for the vaccine to work.
“When a COVID-19 vaccine does become available, it will likely not be available for sale online,” Europol warned earlier this month. “However, fraudulent pharmaceutical products advertised as allegedly treating or preventing COVID-19 are already on sale, both offline and online.”
Misleading black market sales for coronavirus treatments began almost as soon as the pandemic did, with listings for questionable tests and treatments appearing even before March. More recently, scalpers in China began selling doses of the then-unapproved vaccines. False negative coronavirus test results have also popped up around the world.
But these sort of listings for ostensible vaccines are far more common now that regulatory agencies have started approving vaccines for use, perhaps because governmental approval lends more authority to the sellers’ claims.