Mafia groups are likely to try to disrupt the spread of the COVID-19 vaccine, the international police organization Interpol warned on Wednesday.
In a statement, the group warned its 194 member states to be on high alert for organized crime networks trying to break into supply chains to get the vaccine. They also warned of the sale of fraudulent coronavirus vaccines.
“Criminal networks will also target unsuspecting members of society through fake websites and counterfeit medicines, which can pose a significant risk to their health, even to their lives,”
“It is crucial that law enforcement be prepared as much as possible for what will be an attack on all types of criminal activity related to the COVID-19 vaccine, which is why Interpol has issued this global warning.”
The warning comes as health authorities in the United States and elsewhere review repeatedly developed vaccines. The United Kingdom on Wednesday became the first Western country to officially authorize a vaccine, giving the green light to the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, which experiments have shown to be safe and 95% effective at blocking COVID-19.
Last month, Interpol issued a warning about the risk of trafficking in real vaccines against COVID-19, advising law enforcement agencies around the world to begin immediate preparations to prevent such crimes.
“High demand combined with limited supply will make COVID-19 vaccines the equivalent of liquid gold for organized crime networks as soon as there are any,” Stoke said.
There is also a risk that fake tests for COVID-19 will be sold, the organization added, as the need for testing is likely to increase as international travel begins to recover.
Interpol has previously warned the public about counterfeit drugs and other medical items, which it noted became particularly worrying during the pandemic.
The group said Wednesday that its analysis showed that “of the 3,000 websites linked to online pharmacies suspected of selling illegal drugs and medical devices, about 1,700 contain cyber threats, especially phishing and spam malware.”
In a warning Wednesday, he also noted that the pandemic had already “caused unprecedented opportunistic and predatory criminal behavior”.
Cybercrime is on the rise, Interpol said in August, with corporations and governments being the main targets. The widespread reorientation of business operations from offices to online has led to a sharp rise in phishing, malware, online fraud and misinformation.
During the pandemic, there were many cases of opportunists who took advantage of the moment to commit fraud and mask prices.
In several cases, people have been arrested for trying to sell masks worth millions of dollars that they did not actually own.
In March, just as COVID-19 began to spread in the United States, law enforcement agencies across the country issued warnings of fraudsters knocking on people’s doors, claiming to be CDC employees and offering to test people for money.