Thousands of fake doses of COVID-19 Vaccines have been busted by law enforcement agencies globally after an alert was issued by the INTERPOL.
Recently INTERPOL had warned that vaccines will be a prime target for criminal networks. Following this, South African authorities confiscated hundreds of bogus COVID-19 vaccines.
Officers have seized 400 ampoules containing the fake vaccine, equivalent to about 2,400 doses, at a warehouse in Germiston, Gauteng, where they also discovered a large quantity of fake 3M masks. Police have detained three Chinese nationals and a Zambian national who were involved in the crime.
Meanwhile, Police in China successfully detected a network selling bogus COVID-19 vaccines, raided the manufacturing facility, arrested 80 suspects, and confiscated over 3,000 fake vaccines on the spot. INTERPOL’s Illicit Goods and Global Health (IGGH) Programme assisted and funded the investigation.
The arrests came just weeks after INTERPOL released an Orange Notice warning law enforcement to be on the lookout for organised crime groups targeting COVID-19 vaccines both physically and virtually.
To aid in the detection of fake vials, the warning included information and photographs of legitimate vaccines as well as approved shipping methods offered by pharmaceutical companies.
“Whilst we welcome this result, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine-related crime,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock
“Following our warning that criminals would target the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, both on and offline, INTERPOL continues to provide its full support to national authorities working to protect the health and safety of their citizens.
Speaking about the seizure, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Public Security said, “The Chinese government attaches great importance to vaccine security. Chinese police are conducting a targeted campaign to prevent and crackdown on crimes related to vaccines, proactively investigating and combating crimes related to vaccines in accordance with law. We will further strengthen the constructive cooperation with INTERPOL and law enforcement agencies of other countries to effectively prevent such crimes.”
Additional warnings of bogus vaccine delivery and scam attempts targeting health bodies, such as nursing homes, are being received by INTERPOL, in addition to the arrests in South Africa and China.
INTERPOL is reminding the public that there are currently no licenced vaccines for sale on the internet. Any vaccine sold on the internet or on the dark web is not genuine, has not been tested, and could be harmful. Anyone who purchases these drugs puts themselves in danger and gives their money to organised crime.