The Italian authorities shut down 32 Telegram groups where thousands of people were offered fake COVID-19 passes. For the illegal service, the criminals preferred cryptocurrency payments.
In exchange for a Green Pass, you can exchange cryptocurrency.
The Italian police have shut down several groups on the online messaging app Telegram. Scammers there offered fake COVID-19 health passes to people looking to avoid the law and obtain the certificates in exchange for cryptocurrencies.
The so-called Green Pass allows Italians who have already received at least one coronavirus vaccine shot, who have recently recovered from the virus, or who have tested negative to visit cinemas, gyms, museums, and restaurants, among other places.
The criminals did not have a set price for the illegal service, but it could be purchased for up to 500 euros ($588). Nonetheless, the Italian authorities did not specify the type of digital assets accepted by the scammers.
Italy has been one of Europe’s worst-affected countries by the COVID-19. Despite the fact that nearly 130,000 people died as a result of the virus, many residents are still hesitant to get vaccinated.
According to available data, approximately 20 million people have downloaded the Green Pass. However, it is unclear whether all of the certificates belong to people who legally obtained them or to people who were involved in cryptocurrency fraud.
COVID-19 Vaccines Available on the Darknet
It is not the first time that scammers have attempted to sell forged coronavirus certificates in exchange for virtual assets.
As CryptoPotato reported in July, some users on the infamous Darkweb were selling vaccination passports and even stolen doses of COVID-19 vaccines. For criminals, the most desirable cryptocurrencies were Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Monero (XMR).
According to the blockchain analytics firm Coinfirm, fraudsters prefer this payment method due to the anonymity and global popularity that cryptocurrencies provide.
The scam was so widespread that, in addition to popular vaccines such as Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, the Russian product Sputnik V could be purchased.
The vast majority of criminals providing these services were based in the Russian Federation or the United States. Eastern Europeans, on the other hand, were the ones who purchased the most vaccines and falsified passports. The products were estimated to cost $250 per ten doses, or the equivalent in digital assets.