The owner of a site that wanted to sell fake coronavirus cures and accept payment in bitcoin has been seized by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colombia.
The site, coronaprevention.com, was posted on a hacker’s forum the day after the virus was declared a national pandemic by the President, according to a complaint. The owner allegedly theorized with others about potentially selling “high markup in demand products” through the site, marking the price of the domain up and reportedly asking for payment in bitcoin.
According to the warrant, the seller then engaged with an undercover Homeland Security operative, talking about how cool it would be to sell “fake testing kits” with coronaprevention.com. The seller expressed a disdain that he couldn’t do it himself, not having enough funds to buy them from Chinese eCommerce site Alibaba.
U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea said the office would not “tolerate exploitation of this national emergency for personal gain […] This Office will not allow fraudsters to use anonymous online spaces and cryptocurrency to hide their harmful activities and prey on victims.”
Crime related to the coronavirus has skyrocketed in recent weeks as the virus has been the top news story around the world.
New York-based Northwell Health, a group representing over 800 hospitals, has joined up with IBM’s Rapid Supplier Connect network, which utilizes bitcoin in order to assist and vet suppliers during the pandemic.
Rapid Supplier Connect utilizes digital identity services to make the vetting process easier, and has emergency supplier onboarding. The platform also has a way for buyers to access all the services they need through one centralized program, including product listings.
IBM said the product was supposed to offset the habit of some health providers of turning to new, unproven and not-yet-trustworthy new suppliers during the pandemic as resources run thin.
Phyllis McCready, Northwell Health vice president and chief procurement officer, said it was important to preserve supplies, as Northwell had done, stockpiling medical necessities like personal protection equipment (PPE).