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Increased use of vaccine passports could lead to scams, experts warn

   March 31, 2021 12:09 AM
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by Laura Romero andDr. Leah Croll

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Fraudulent activity surrounding vaccine passport Fraudulent certificates and passports
As states continue to open up eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine and more services start to require proof of vaccination, experts are warning of a rise in fraudulent activity surrounding vaccine passports.

Vaccine passports and certificates are being touted around the world as a way for various industries to start returning to normal while minimizing the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Consumers are already being required to use the passes at venues ranging from sports arenas and movie theaters to services like international travel.

But with the rollout of vaccine passports, experts tell ABC News they are seeing an increase in websites and online forums advertising fraudulent certificates and passports.

"The darknet is booming with activity related to the vaccines," said Ekram Ahmed, spokesperson for Check Point, a cybersecurity firm. "Cyber criminals are looking to capitalize on the public's interest to both get the vaccine or avoid the vaccine."

Since the beginning of the pandemic, scams surrounding coronavirus testing, fake protective equipment and fake COVID-19 vaccines have circulated on the internet. Now experts are concerned about a rise in fake vaccine certificates.

"Vaccination certificate for Covid ," said one ad found on the dark web, according to Check Point.

"Not every body will like to take the covid19 vaccine and we provide proof of having been vaccinated," said another.

Check Point reports that overall, the number of false advertisements related to vaccines has more than tripled since January.

"It's only a matter of time before hackers find a way to organize fraudulent activity for digital passports," said Ahmed. "With a digital passport in each person's hand, it could make for some serious fraud." As of now, New York is the only state that has officially announced a digital vaccine passport to fast-track the reopening of businesses and entertainment venues statewide.

"New Yorkers have proven they can follow public health guidance to beat back COVID, and the innovative Excelsior Pass is another tool in our new toolbox to fight the virus while allowing more sectors of the economy to reopen safely and keeping personal information secure," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press release last week.

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