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Buyer Beware: COVID Vaccines Netting Big Bucks Online

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - The shortage of COVID-19 vaccines has prompted some to try and get it on the black market.

Investigative reporter David Goldstein says business is apparently booming, but buyers should beware.

While it's nearly impossible to get a vaccine appointment in Southern California, we found ads touting vaccines on the internet and a cyber security expert says they've seen a 400% increase in the number of ads posted just over the past month.

COVID vaccines for $500, $1,000 - even offering overnight delivery. Another claiming to have 10,000 bottles for the discount price of $30,000.

"People are wanting to cut the line. They don't want to wait the weeks or months to get the vaccine in whatever country they live in so the demand for these vaccines has gone up," said one cyber security expert.

Looking at some of the pictures of the vaccines online, the experts say it could be the real thing. They say it would be hard to tell until you get a shipment in the mail. They ordered one and never got it.

UCLA epidemiologist Dr. Shira Shafir says it's doubtful the vaccines are legitimate.

Because the vaccines have to be kept at well below freezing temperatures—and would require a special shipping—what you find on the internet may not be the real thing. And even if it is it may be worthless.

"Even if in an unlikely circumstance it was taken and was legit, it's extremely unlikely it's an effective vaccine," Shafir said.

But that doesn't stop the scammers from preying on people's hopes.

Experts also point out that the controls on COVID vaccines are very tight. Medical personnel have to document each and dose — and the chances that vials could be stolen would be rare.


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