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揭秘偽造“新冠護照”的黑市:暗流洶涌,“潛力”巨大

揭秘偽造“新冠護照”的黑市:暗流洶涌,“潛力”巨大

KATHERINE DUNN 2021年08月09日
這只是一個信息爆發并且顯而易見的新冠疫苗證書和護照黑市的入口,富裕國家的人不想接種疫苗以及仍然無法接種疫苗的人都助長了這個黑市的擴張。

我個人購買的“偽造疫苗接種套餐”的廣告上有一個gif動圖。

這張gif圖以花卉圖案為背景,快速縮放四張印有英國國家醫療服務體系標志的疫苗接種書,并配有一張看起來很正式的空白文檔。為了顯得真實可信,我的名字和申請日期都附在上面。這些偽造的疫苗證明顯示此人已經接種兩劑阿斯利康(幽靈)疫苗。實際上,我已經接種了兩劑輝瑞疫苗

賣家承諾,偽造疫苗接種證明的套餐還包括數字版本:一個二維碼。我可以通過英國國家醫療服務體系(NHS)的跟蹤和追蹤的應用程序查到新冠疫苗護照。賣家說,只要我用比特幣支付200歐元(約合236美元)后,疫苗護照將會在30分鐘內發送給我,快遞到我家。賣家還能幫我買一本法國的新冠護照或者德國的新冠護照?這都沒問題——每本200歐元。

這并不是暗網最深的地方。這是一款即時通訊應用Telegram,該應用的賣家背后有一個11.1萬名成員的團隊,應用平臺上充斥著各種語言的新冠疫苗官方證書的照片以及反疫苗陰謀論。

這只是一個信息爆發并且顯而易見的新冠疫苗證書和護照黑市的入口,富裕國家的人不想接種疫苗以及仍然無法接種疫苗的人都助長了這個黑市的擴張。隨著高度接種疫苗的國家越來越多地強制要求人們接種疫苗。不僅是為了出國旅行,而且是為了獲得從餐館到體育賽事的一切工作機會,這個黑市只會不斷壯大。

Check Point軟件技術有限公司的安全專家拉亞?米茲拉奇(Liad Mizrachi)表示:“這方面的市場潛力非常大。”他自3月份以來一直在跟蹤偽造證件和假疫苗護照數量激增的事件。“同時,由于黑市引發的毀滅性后果令人十分沮喪。”

亂象叢生的新冠疫苗護照黑市

米茲拉奇說,假新冠疫苗護照的激增遵循了一個可靠的趨勢:當一個國家,比如法國,宣布基于疫苗接種的一系列限制措施時,偽造新冠疫苗護照的苗頭就開始展露了。

偽造的新冠疫苗護照仿佛唾手可得。米茲拉奇表示,盡管黑客的報價最初出現在暗網上,但搜索客戶的過程很快將交易轉移到了Telegram,甚至是用于加密消息的流行應用程序WhatsApp。Check Point的研究人員瀏覽了包括臉書在內的反疫苗小組,這導致Telegram小組的邀請明顯基于出售假護照和證書。

他說:“這兩隊團伙之間肯定有協同合作,或者至少有一方在利用另一方。”

米茲拉奇表示,信息平臺的最近活動表明,賣家有意將目標鎖定在不熟悉暗網操作的買家身上,這些人也不太善于識別徹頭徹尾的騙局。他補充說,從那以后,Telegram集團的規模呈現爆炸式增長。有些團體只有幾十名成員,而該公司追蹤的一個團體有50萬名成員。

記者采訪Telegram的一名發言人時,他提到了意大利政府公布的出售假證書的組織,并表示Telegram已經關閉了這些賬戶,當局也沒有進一步聯系。該發言人沒有對現有的虛假英國國家醫療服務體系(NHS)賬戶和歐洲賬戶發表進一步看法。臉書頒布政策禁止在該平臺發布合法和偽造的醫療文件,包括疫苗接種證明。

但米茲拉奇指出,大多數國家早期新冠疫苗證書的保真度較低,加上缺乏國際合作,為偽造證明創造了一個完全開放的市場。許多疫苗接種證書仍然是紙質的,很容易偽造。不法分子經常利用社交媒體上合法疫苗接種卡的照片,偽造相關細節。

米茲拉奇說,在英國,新冠數字護照正在通過英國國家醫療服務體系(NHS)的跟蹤和追蹤的應用程序推出,賣家現在似乎在努力解決如何繞過系統追蹤的問題。但其他國家也經常利用系統中的漏洞。(在德國,當局政府最近補充了允許通過藥房進行數字注冊的相關條款。)

就通行證問題,一名歐盟官員表示,歐盟委員會意識到偽造的新冠疫苗證書越來越多,但表示,歐盟數字新冠疫苗接種證書的數字加密手段完全安全,不會被篡改。該證書可用于在歐盟國家內部旅行。

“重要的是區分歐盟數字新冠通行證和偽造的歐盟數字新冠安全證書,”這位官員表示,并補充說歐盟成員國需要確保自己的證書是受法律保護并且安全可靠。

但是,米茲拉奇指出,在全球各地,許多時候邊境服務沒有配備掃描、解讀其他國家護照和證書的設備,這為欺詐行為留下了更多空間。

據他描述,通常工作人員只是看一眼護照,說“看起來不錯,下一位”,直接放行。“這種局面相當混亂。”米茲拉奇說。

但是,畢竟技術復雜性沒能阻止賣家“提供數字解決方案”的宣傳口號,這一點或許揭示了遏制假新冠護照傳播的最佳方法:讓人們知道他們可能會被騙。

劍橋大學(Cambridge University)研究虛假信息和陰謀論的社會心理學家桑德?范德林登指出,反疫苗者“極其討厭被騙”。從騙子的角度來看,新冠護照越來越強大,這并不是一個障礙。“他們只會佯裝向你出售任何東西。”他說。

第二位賣家告訴我,他們提供的紙質護照只能讓我“匆忙地”進入餐館和商店。目前在英國甚至沒有這么做的必要。另一位賣家則聲稱,他們可以為我建立一個數字護照,鏈接到我真實的NHS號碼、地址和全科醫生注冊信息。

“它被存入NHS數據庫,”這位賣家表示,“我們在那有內部人員。”

當我表示疑惑時,賣家表示,在我以比特幣的形式轉賬200英鎊(約合278美元)之后,他們會提供證據。但是,我無法核實賣家的身份和位置。

“購買和使用假卡,假裝你已經接種了新冠病毒疫苗,實際上并沒有——這可能對你和其他人有害,并可能導致病毒的進一步傳播。”英國國家欺詐和網絡犯罪報告中心(National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre)——防止詐騙行動處(Action Fraud)主管寶琳?史密斯在一份評論中表示。她補充說,在英國,疫苗只能從NHS處獲得,而且當然是免費的。

反疫苗者(原詞是一個新詞,意思是要么不相信新冠存在,要么認為根本沒有政府說的那么糟糕,指一種不相信政府和媒體的人群)

在新冠疫情的世界里,假疫苗接種證書的激增,只是眾多騙局中的一個。

網絡安全專家還指出了疫苗本身在黑市上出售的情況,以及各種欺詐行為:如假裝衛生當局竊取個人數據、迫切需要檢測,針對衛生服務和供應商的復雜的網絡攻擊等。

“自疫情開始以來,我們的威脅情報分析師已經發現了數千起與疫情有關的網絡攻擊。”網絡安全咨詢公司Anomali的網絡情報戰略高級主管A?J納什表示,“我們還看到了暗網論壇出售假的新冠疫苗接種卡、檢測結果,甚至還有疫苗。”

盡管納什表示,他們公司還未看到專門針對NHS軟件的仿冒品,但他表示,“考慮到地下論壇廣闊的范圍和網絡罪犯的復雜程度,我們有理由認為這樣一個市場可能會出現”。

除此之外,假新冠護照的爆炸式增長似乎映射著全球疫苗接種的兩個截然不同但同時存在的障礙:不信任,以及缺乏獲取渠道。

說到不信任,肯定是那些拒絕接種疫苗的人。在美國,大約一半未接種疫苗的人說他們“肯定”不會接種疫苗。

還有跡象表明,美國和英國的年輕人對疫苗的猶豫程度略高,他們是最懂技術的人,同時也是目前最不可能接種疫苗的人。YouGov的一項跟蹤調查顯示,與其他國家相比,英國總體上在疫苗問題上的猶豫相對較少。

與此同時,由于全球疫苗推廣速度緩慢,很多地區缺乏疫苗獲取渠道。根據世界衛生組織(World Health Organization)的數據,截至今年5月,富裕國家為每100人注射了約50劑疫苗,而較貧窮國家僅注射了0.1劑。米茲拉奇指出,后者群體正在推動全球對新冠疫苗假證件的需求,一些人只是為了探望家人,或者為了工作。

范德林登說,假新冠證明市場的大部分人群,可能來自后者,也就是渠道缺乏者。他指出,經過充分研究,真正的反疫苗者應當仍然是少數。

但是,對新冠護照的如此推銷的推崇或也吸引了一群新的人——這些人不認為自己反疫苗,但仍然不愿意注射疫苗。

“或許我們現在還沒有一個確切的數字,但這一群體確實存在。”范德林登說。

無論如何,銷售仍在繼續。就在我寫完這篇文章的時候,一封來自Telegram的通知從我手機里跳出來。

“事實是,永遠不要接種那些瘋狂的、惡心的疫苗。”賣家寫道。

這位賣家還附上了他們商品的照片:新冠疫苗文件在拼花地板上鋪開,上面有偽造的印度尼西亞、荷蘭和巴基斯坦政府的字體和信頭。(財富中文網)

這篇文章已被修改:關于桑德?范德林登的職務關系部分。

編譯:於欣、楊二一

我個人購買的“偽造疫苗接種套餐”的廣告上有一個gif動圖。

這張gif圖以花卉圖案為背景,快速縮放四張印有英國國家醫療服務體系標志的疫苗接種書,并配有一張看起來很正式的空白文檔。為了顯得真實可信,我的名字和申請日期都附在上面。這些偽造的疫苗證明顯示此人已經接種兩劑阿斯利康(幽靈)疫苗。實際上,我已經接種了兩劑輝瑞疫苗

賣家承諾,偽造疫苗接種證明的套餐還包括數字版本:一個二維碼。我可以通過英國國家醫療服務體系(NHS)的跟蹤和追蹤的應用程序查到新冠疫苗護照。賣家說,只要我用比特幣支付200歐元(約合236美元)后,疫苗護照將會在30分鐘內發送給我,快遞到我家。賣家還能幫我買一本法國的新冠護照或者德國的新冠護照?這都沒問題——每本200歐元。

這并不是暗網最深的地方。這是一款即時通訊應用Telegram,該應用的賣家背后有一個11.1萬名成員的團隊,應用平臺上充斥著各種語言的新冠疫苗官方證書的照片以及反疫苗陰謀論。

這只是一個信息爆發并且顯而易見的新冠疫苗證書和護照黑市的入口,富裕國家的人不想接種疫苗以及仍然無法接種疫苗的人都助長了這個黑市的擴張。隨著高度接種疫苗的國家越來越多地強制要求人們接種疫苗。不僅是為了出國旅行,而且是為了獲得從餐館到體育賽事的一切工作機會,這個黑市只會不斷壯大。

Check Point軟件技術有限公司的安全專家拉亞?米茲拉奇(Liad Mizrachi)表示:“這方面的市場潛力非常大。”他自3月份以來一直在跟蹤偽造證件和假疫苗護照數量激增的事件。“同時,由于黑市引發的毀滅性后果令人十分沮喪。”

亂象叢生的新冠疫苗護照黑市

米茲拉奇說,假新冠疫苗護照的激增遵循了一個可靠的趨勢:當一個國家,比如法國,宣布基于疫苗接種的一系列限制措施時,偽造新冠疫苗護照的苗頭就開始展露了。

偽造的新冠疫苗護照仿佛唾手可得。米茲拉奇表示,盡管黑客的報價最初出現在暗網上,但搜索客戶的過程很快將交易轉移到了Telegram,甚至是用于加密消息的流行應用程序WhatsApp。Check Point的研究人員瀏覽了包括臉書在內的反疫苗小組,這導致Telegram小組的邀請明顯基于出售假護照和證書。

他說:“這兩隊團伙之間肯定有協同合作,或者至少有一方在利用另一方。”

米茲拉奇表示,信息平臺的最近活動表明,賣家有意將目標鎖定在不熟悉暗網操作的買家身上,這些人也不太善于識別徹頭徹尾的騙局。他補充說,從那以后,Telegram集團的規模呈現爆炸式增長。有些團體只有幾十名成員,而該公司追蹤的一個團體有50萬名成員。

記者采訪Telegram的一名發言人時,他提到了意大利政府公布的出售假證書的組織,并表示Telegram已經關閉了這些賬戶,當局也沒有進一步聯系。該發言人沒有對現有的虛假英國國家醫療服務體系(NHS)賬戶和歐洲賬戶發表進一步看法。臉書頒布政策禁止在該平臺發布合法和偽造的醫療文件,包括疫苗接種證明。

但米茲拉奇指出,大多數國家早期新冠疫苗證書的保真度較低,加上缺乏國際合作,為偽造證明創造了一個完全開放的市場。許多疫苗接種證書仍然是紙質的,很容易偽造。不法分子經常利用社交媒體上合法疫苗接種卡的照片,偽造相關細節。

米茲拉奇說,在英國,新冠數字護照正在通過英國國家醫療服務體系(NHS)的跟蹤和追蹤的應用程序推出,賣家現在似乎在努力解決如何繞過系統追蹤的問題。但其他國家也經常利用系統中的漏洞。(在德國,當局政府最近補充了允許通過藥房進行數字注冊的相關條款。)

就通行證問題,一名歐盟官員表示,歐盟委員會意識到偽造的新冠疫苗證書越來越多,但表示,歐盟數字新冠疫苗接種證書的數字加密手段完全安全,不會被篡改。該證書可用于在歐盟國家內部旅行。

“重要的是區分歐盟數字新冠通行證和偽造的歐盟數字新冠安全證書,”這位官員表示,并補充說歐盟成員國需要確保自己的證書是受法律保護并且安全可靠。

但是,米茲拉奇指出,在全球各地,許多時候邊境服務沒有配備掃描、解讀其他國家護照和證書的設備,這為欺詐行為留下了更多空間。

據他描述,通常工作人員只是看一眼護照,說“看起來不錯,下一位”,直接放行。“這種局面相當混亂。”米茲拉奇說。

但是,畢竟技術復雜性沒能阻止賣家“提供數字解決方案”的宣傳口號,這一點或許揭示了遏制假新冠護照傳播的最佳方法:讓人們知道他們可能會被騙。

劍橋大學(Cambridge University)研究虛假信息和陰謀論的社會心理學家桑德?范德林登指出,反疫苗者“極其討厭被騙”。從騙子的角度來看,新冠護照越來越強大,這并不是一個障礙。“他們只會佯裝向你出售任何東西。”他說。

第二位賣家告訴我,他們提供的紙質護照只能讓我“匆忙地”進入餐館和商店。目前在英國甚至沒有這么做的必要。另一位賣家則聲稱,他們可以為我建立一個數字護照,鏈接到我真實的NHS號碼、地址和全科醫生注冊信息。

“它被存入NHS數據庫,”這位賣家表示,“我們在那有內部人員。”

當我表示疑惑時,賣家表示,在我以比特幣的形式轉賬200英鎊(約合278美元)之后,他們會提供證據。但是,我無法核實賣家的身份和位置。

“購買和使用假卡,假裝你已經接種了新冠病毒疫苗,實際上并沒有——這可能對你和其他人有害,并可能導致病毒的進一步傳播。”英國國家欺詐和網絡犯罪報告中心(National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre)——防止詐騙行動處(Action Fraud)主管寶琳?史密斯在一份評論中表示。她補充說,在英國,疫苗只能從NHS處獲得,而且當然是免費的。

反疫苗者(原詞是一個新詞,意思是要么不相信新冠存在,要么認為根本沒有政府說的那么糟糕,指一種不相信政府和媒體的人群)

在新冠疫情的世界里,假疫苗接種證書的激增,只是眾多騙局中的一個。

網絡安全專家還指出了疫苗本身在黑市上出售的情況,以及各種欺詐行為:如假裝衛生當局竊取個人數據、迫切需要檢測,針對衛生服務和供應商的復雜的網絡攻擊等。

“自疫情開始以來,我們的威脅情報分析師已經發現了數千起與疫情有關的網絡攻擊。”網絡安全咨詢公司Anomali的網絡情報戰略高級主管A?J納什表示,“我們還看到了暗網論壇出售假的新冠疫苗接種卡、檢測結果,甚至還有疫苗。”

盡管納什表示,他們公司還未看到專門針對NHS軟件的仿冒品,但他表示,“考慮到地下論壇廣闊的范圍和網絡罪犯的復雜程度,我們有理由認為這樣一個市場可能會出現”。

除此之外,假新冠護照的爆炸式增長似乎映射著全球疫苗接種的兩個截然不同但同時存在的障礙:不信任,以及缺乏獲取渠道。

說到不信任,肯定是那些拒絕接種疫苗的人。在美國,大約一半未接種疫苗的人說他們“肯定”不會接種疫苗。

還有跡象表明,美國和英國的年輕人對疫苗的猶豫程度略高,他們是最懂技術的人,同時也是目前最不可能接種疫苗的人。YouGov的一項跟蹤調查顯示,與其他國家相比,英國總體上在疫苗問題上的猶豫相對較少。

與此同時,由于全球疫苗推廣速度緩慢,很多地區缺乏疫苗獲取渠道。根據世界衛生組織(World Health Organization)的數據,截至今年5月,富裕國家為每100人注射了約50劑疫苗,而較貧窮國家僅注射了0.1劑。米茲拉奇指出,后者群體正在推動全球對新冠疫苗假證件的需求,一些人只是為了探望家人,或者為了工作。

范德林登說,假新冠證明市場的大部分人群,可能來自后者,也就是渠道缺乏者。他指出,經過充分研究,真正的反疫苗者應當仍然是少數。

但是,對新冠護照的如此推銷的推崇或也吸引了一群新的人——這些人不認為自己反疫苗,但仍然不愿意注射疫苗。

“或許我們現在還沒有一個確切的數字,但這一群體確實存在。”范德林登說。

無論如何,銷售仍在繼續。就在我寫完這篇文章的時候,一封來自Telegram的通知從我手機里跳出來。

“事實是,永遠不要接種那些瘋狂的、惡心的疫苗。”賣家寫道。

這位賣家還附上了他們商品的照片:新冠疫苗文件在拼花地板上鋪開,上面有偽造的印度尼西亞、荷蘭和巴基斯坦政府的字體和信頭。(財富中文網)

這篇文章已被修改:關于桑德?范德林登的職務關系部分。

編譯:於欣、楊二一

My personal "fake vaccine pack" came advertised with an animated gif.

Set against a floral-patterned carpet, the gif rapidly zoomed in and out of a neatly arranged spread: four fake paper vaccine cards stamped with the logo of the U.K.'s National Health Service, paired with a piece of official-looking blank paperwork, and—for authenticity's sake—my (real) first name, and the date of the request. In this world, I had received two (phantom) doses of AstraZeneca. In reality, I am fully vaccinated—with two doses of Pfizer.

The other part of the package, the seller promised, was digital: a QR code that would supposedly give me access to a COVID-19 passport on the NHS's Track and Trace app. It would be sent within 30 minutes after I transferred €200, or about $236, in Bitcoin, the seller said. The paperwork would be sent to my home address. Could the seller get me a French COVID-19 passport, or a German one? No problem—€200 each.

This isn't the farthest reaches of the dark web. It's Telegram, a messaging app, where this seller runs a 111,000 member group flooded with photos of official looking COVID-19 certificates in various languages—and anti-vaccine conspiracy theories.

It's just one entryway into an exploding and barely hidden black market for COVID-19 certificates and passports, fueled both by people in wealthy countries who don't want to get vaccinated, and people who still can't get access to vaccines. As highly vaccinated countries are increasingly mandating vaccination passes not just for international travel, but also for access to everything from jobs to restaurants to sports events, the market is only growing.

"There is such huge potential," says Liad Mizrachi, a security expert at Check Point Software Technologies, who has followed the explosion of fake certificates and passports since March. "Sad potential and destructive potential, as well."

“A chaotic situation”

The explosion of fake COVID-19 passports has followed a reliable trend: The moment a country—say, France—announces a battery of restrictions based on vaccination, the offers start appearing, says Mizrachi.

They're also easy to find. Though offers among hackers first appeared on the dark web, the search for customers quickly moved the trade to Telegram and even the popular encrypted messaging service WhatsApp, says Mizrachi. Researchers at Check Point browsed anti-vaccination groups—including on Facebook—which led to invites to Telegram groups explicitly based on selling fake passports and certificates.

“There is definitely synergy between these two groups, or at least one group is using the other one,” he says.

The movement onto messaging platforms suggests the sellers are purposely targeting buyers inexperienced with navigating the dark web, who are also less equipped to recognize outright scams, says Mizrachi. Since then, the Telegram groups have exploded in size, he adds. Some groups have just a few dozen members, while one group the company tracks has half a million.

Contacted for comment, a Telegram spokesperson referred to groups selling the fake certificates that were reported by Italian officials, and said that Telegram had shut down the accounts and received no further contact from the authorities. The spokesperson did not respond to a further request for comment on existing accounts offering fake NHS and European accounts. Facebook policy bans the posting of both legitimate and fake medical documents, including vaccine certificates.

But the low-fi nature of the early COVID-19 certificates in most countries and the lack of international cooperation have created a wide-open market for fraud, Mizrachi points out. Many of the vaccination certificates are still paper only and easy to forge, often using details ripped off strangers' celebratory social media photos of legitimate vaccine cards.

In the U.K., where the digital COVID-19 passport is being rolled out through the NHS's Track and Trace app, sellers now appear to be grappling with how to reliably get around the system, Mizrachi said. But loopholes have frequently been exploited in other countries. (In Germany, the government recently closed one gap that allowed digital registration through pharmacies.)

Contacted about the passes, an EU official said that the commission is aware of the increasing number of fake COVID-19 certificates, but said that the digital encryption on the bloc's Digital COVID Certificate, which can be used for travel within the EU, is entirely secure and can't be tampered with.

"It is important to distinguish between the security of the EU Digital COVID Certificate and the possible falsification of vaccination certificates that are used to generate [the] secure EU Digital COVID Certificate," the official said, adding that member states needed to make sure that their own certificates were properly secured and checked.

But in many cases globally, border services aren't equipped to scan or even understand the passports and certificates from other countries, leaving more options for fraud, noted Mizrachi.

“Usually you just look at it, and ‘It looks fine, okay, carry on,’” he said. “It’s just kind of a chaotic situation.”

After all, potential technical complications haven't stopped sellers from claiming they can offer digital solutions, which might point toward the best way of combating the spread of fake COVID-19 passports in the first place: letting people know that they’re likely to get scammed.

Anti-vaxxers are "really, really averse to getting duped," points out Sander van der Linden, a social psychologist from Cambridge University who studies misinformation and conspiracy theories. From a scammer's perspective, increasingly robust COVID-19 passports aren't a barrier, he points out: "They'll just pretend to sell you anything."

While a second seller told me their paper-card offerings were only workable for cursory entry to restaurants and shops—which, at the moment, is not even necessary in the U.K.—another claimed they could set up a digital passport for me linked to my genuine NHS number, address, and GP registration.

"It gets puts [sic] into the NHS database," the seller said. "We have inside people."

When I expressed doubt, the seller said they would provide proof—after I transferred £200 ($278)—in Bitcoin, of course. (I was not able to verify the identity or the location of the seller.)

“Buying and using fake cards to pretend you have received the coronavirus vaccine, when you haven’t, could be harmful to you and others, and could result in the further spread of the virus," said Pauline Smith, director of Action Fraud, the U.K.'s National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, in a provided comment. She added that in the U.K., the vaccine is available only from the NHS and is, of course, free.

The scamdemic

In the world of COVID-19, the explosion of fake vaccination certificates is just one scam among many.

Cybersecurity experts have also pointed toward black market offers of the vaccines themselves, along with a vast universe of fraudulent schemes: from low-tech scammers pretending to be health authorities to rip off personal data or take advantage of desperation for tests, to sophisticated cyberattacks aimed at health services and providers.

"Since the start of the pandemic, our threat intel analysts have detected thousands of pandemic-related cyberattacks," said AJ Nash, senior director of cyber intelligence strategy at Anomali, a cybersecurity consultancy. "We’ve also seen dark web forums selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards, test results, and even vaccines."

While Nash said the firm hadn't seen fakes specifically for the NHS app, "given the range of underground online forums and the levels of sophistication cybercriminals have achieved, it’s reasonable to presume that such a market will emerge, if it hasn’t already."

The fake COVID-19 passport explosion seems to cater to two disparate but powerful barriers to global vaccination: distrust, and lack of access.

When it comes to distrust, the market is coming from people who refuse to get vaccinated—in the U.S., about half of those who are unvaccinated say they will "definitely" not get the shot.

There are also indications that vaccine hesitation is slightly higher among younger people in both the U.S. and the U.K., who are both the least likely to be currently vaccinated and the most tech-savvy. (The U.K., in general, actually has relatively little vaccine hesitancy compared to other countries, according to a tracker from YouGov.)

The lack of access, meanwhile, is largely due to the slow pace of the global vaccine roll out. According to the World Health Organization, wealthy countries had administered about 50 doses per 100 people by May, while poorer countries had administered just 0.1 doses per 100 people. That group is fueling global demand for fake certificates in order to travel to see family, or simply to work, points out Mizrachi.

The majority of the market for fake COVID-19 documents are likely to be from this second group, says van der Linden. Genuine anti-vaxxers remain a well-studied minority, he notes.

But the fairly overt marketing for the COVID-19 passports might also be drawing in a new group of people—those who don't consider themselves to be generally anti-vaccine, but still don't want to take the COVID-19 jab.

"I don’t think we have a number for that group now, but they’re their own group," said van der Linden.

Either way, the selling continues. While I was finishing this story, a notification from Telegram popped up on my phone.

"The truth is always don't take that crazy sh*tty vaccine," the seller wrote.

The person attached a photo of their wares: paperwork fanned out across a parquet floor, and bearing the forged fonts and letterheads of the governments of Indonesia, the Netherlands, and Pakistan.

This article has been corrected to reflect Sander van der Linden's affiliation.

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