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  • Writer's pictureT Skevington and M Bacina

COVID-19 vaccine scam proceeds are traceable, despite claims to the contrary

Updated: May 2

An Australian website selling a scam COVID-19 vaccine in exchange for Bitcoin has been doing the rounds in the media recently, which has led to more incorrect commentary that proceeds from the scam are "anonymous and mostly untraceable".

The website in question, under the worryingly ambiguous name "Australian Medical University" was selling fake vaccines for 0.1 Bitcoin, worth about AUD$1,571 at the time of writing. Generously, they also offered bulk packages, charging 0.18 Bitcoin for two vaccines, or 0.26 Bitcoin for three vaccines.

In comments to various media outlets, an "expert" in cyber fraud was quoted as saying:

Not only does Bitcoin make it almost impossible to track the transaction, it also allows scammers to transfer money across the world

While we are pleased to see the media identifying the website as a scam, it is disappointing to see the same tired misconceptions about the traceability of Bitcoin transactions trotted out. As we have seen time and time and time and time again, financing criminal activity with a system which leaves an immutable, irreversible and publicly accessible record of your actions is a terrible way to commit crime, and provides an accessible and low-cost resource for regulators to investigate illegal activities.

While there is of course a cost associated with conducting blockchain analysis and identifying the scammers, particularly where those involved are overseas, this is no different to the cost of any other investigatory work. Suggesting that Bitcoin offers some sort of cloak of invisibility from criminals is just plain incorrect.


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