The Indicator from Planet Money - The Underground Market For Vaccines

We venture into the dark web and take a look at the world of black market vaccine sales. | Support The Indicator here.

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Everyone just before we start our show we have something to ask you in order to continue providing coverage of the US economy and other events throughout the country in this extraordinary year to continue keeping up with how workers and other regular folks are doing we would so appreciate it. If you would donate to your local NPR member station at npr.org indicator. It would go a long way towards continuing to be able to provide the kind of Journalism that you expect from us. Thank you so much and happy holidays NPR

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Even as the very first covid-19 for being shipped out across the world from Pfizer and Moderne Interpol, the international policing organization issued a warning that organized crime would see the great demand for these vaccines as an opportunity Interpol warned about shipments of vaccines possibly getting stolen and it also warned about counterfeit vaccines getting sold on the black market. In fact, the crisis has created a whole universe of opportunity for criminals fear and scarcity and high demand are very powerful Market forces. China Anderson has been watching these forces play out for months is a senior security researcher at domain tools were as many times as we can every single day and give insights to customers based upon what we see

00:01:39
Yeah, that's the whole thing. The whole thing as much as we can and part of the whole internet is the so-called dark web. That's the unregulated part of the web where a lot of illegal activity happens. So I feel like the dark web. It sounds very mysterious and like I've never been there. It seems like Narnia or something. Like what is the dark web like in point in there? And so does the CIA and other people? Yeah, they're illegal marketplaces illegal Market places where you can buy drugs or weapons are passports or covid-19. This is the indicator from Planet Money. I'm Cardiff Garcia and Alex Smith today on the show covid-19. Dark web Chad Anderson takes us on a journey deep into the belly of the dark web where we explore the black market for cuva.

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Support for NPR in the following message come from fundrise fundrise makes it easy for anyone to invest in high-quality real estate by building you a portfolio with there more than 1 billion dollars in assets get started at fundrise.com indicator to have your first 90 days of advisory fees waived. This message comes from NPR sponsor Salesforce dedicated to helping growing businesses connect their teams share information and automate processes all in a single app. Learn more at salesforce.com. SMB dark web marketplaces are basically like a dark web Amazon or a dark web Etsy these marketplaces do

00:03:23
Billions of dollars worth of business and in fact to stand out in this highly competitive environment a lot of dark web marketplaces have specialized some to only weapons others Focus exclusively on prescription drugs and some of branded themselves as the more woke dark web.

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Darkmarket is the largest one of them. It's the first Market run entirely by women eat. My brain is like women and Sentinel they don't allow explosives or human trafficking has been seeing the market for all things covid-19 strong this year back in March. He actually saw cleaning products Mastin hospital gowns for sale on the dark web and he says that was super weird. It was a scary moment like this stuff become like this hard to come by but we're having to sell it on these illicit marketplaces. So now we're starting to see some front of virus vaccines, you know, I'm looking at

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Maybe two hundred different add Siri. Can you read us some of the ads that you've found in covid-19 vaccines. The price is 3276 Euros. That's about $4,000 US dollars. So about $400 per vaccine free shipping and handling of course and then they have the accepted cryptocurrencies. Would they take where they shipped from which is the UK where they ship to and then has a big message that says consumers are always satisfied or another one, you know says that they do escrow orders. This one's 4 bottles of covid-19 vaccine. A661 Gyros Rhode Island vaccine half of what it cost in the first dad. The market is so new Chad says that the prices are just all over the place and for the record Chad does not think that these vaccines are legit.

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One thing if I survive scene requires a very intense Cold Storage chain, the vaccines have to be kept at -70 degrees Fahrenheit, but also the sites that you had to see in these ads on our kind of a less legit dark web marketplaces their kind of fringy. They haven't branded themselves or specialized and also the Coleman deck seeing ads or mixing with ads all kinds of other things and chess's that tends to be a red flag scroll up and there's cocaine, you know, scroll down you've got your heroin and you know, Molly meth you name it as well. As you know, this site has Firearms has a lot of the covid-19 vendors don't even have reviews and typically vendor reviews from customers are crucial in a dark web Marketplace just like there are on regular online marketplaces, but even more so in the dark web because trust is a me.

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Your concern on the dark web. So people want some kind of assurance that the drugs or weapons that they are buying are actually real because if they're not real you can't just Lodge a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or something like that. Can you read us one of the reviews? Yeah. Let's see. Let's do

00:06:40
so I take it reads like an eBay review a plus plus plus plus, you know best I've gotten that was for LSD has the global Coventry Isis has been a massive opportunity for cybercriminals. The online marketplaces are still a tiny part of it right now and most of the criminal activity has involved ransomware when hospitals first started getting inundated in March or April of this year. There was several large hacker groups that were selling remote access into Hospital networks on the dark web and urgency right now criminal organizations know that if they hack into the system of a hospital they can demand and probably get a lot of money back in October One hospital in New Jersey paid cybercriminals more than $650,000 after the criminals locked up.

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Computer system and threatened to publish all of their patient records, but it's not just hospitals that criminals are targeting. Remember the Pfizer vaccine needs to be really cold and not many company specialize in that kind of ultracold transport and most of them probably don't have super Advanced security systems. So now cybercriminals are seeing a major opportunity targeting those cold storage companies will take over these cold storage companies. Where is halite? Hey, we're going to shut off the fridges. If you don't pay them in all that expensive Pfizer vaccine is going to go away but these kinds of attacks will become more frequent in coming months because after all the payoff for those kinds of attacks are much bigger than a couple of thousand dollars for the covid-19 specs the vaccine Marketplace will continue to grow on the dark web even during our conversation more ads for the Pfizer vaccine or being posted all of these are kind of like

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Has a phone number it is a 707 number. What area code is that, Northern, California?

00:08:54
The Google subscriber you have called is not available. Please leave a message after the tone.

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I get high. I was calling about online ad that I saw.

00:09:12
They have not as of yet. Call me back. I'm not surprised but you still waiting.

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This episode of the indicator was produced by Jamila Huxtable and fact-checked by Sean. Saldania. Our editor is Patty Hirsch and the indicator is a production of NPR.
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