The illegal black-market trade online and the dark web is selling chloroquine, test kits, and ventilators. These venues are strictly prohibited, especally in these trying time as COVID-19 continue to spread worldwide.
One entity, who is identified as a West Yorkshire G, is selling an anti-body test which is against the law in the UK. Another suspected anomalous transaction is an anonymous Facebook page that offers COVID-19 antibody testing kits for £49.99 each, stating it will donate to the NHS. The administrator is Youssef Beaini, a family doctor in Bradford.
He soon stopped selling online when contacted by the Guardian. The general practitioner added he ceased selling because home test kits are not allowed, and he was worried about testing in the UK.
Beaini's online activity was detected by the Guardian's digital investigation team. They had been tracking illicit trade of COVID-19 products that are not in regulations.
It is important to note that testing kits are for medical use only, not for self-testing at home as the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) disallows it.
Authorities are sending the message that these products are not tested and unsafe, despite the claims, said Health Secretary Matt Hancock. He added that they are not suited for home-use.
The agency said it is investigating a large number of allegations of "non-compliance" relating to the selling of medical devices for use during the outbreak.
Ventilators for sale on eBay
The sleuths in the Guardian had tracked down the sale of two ventilators that were supposed to be used in an ICU. They were sold by a seller who had not previously traded in such equipment. Investigation shows that the unit was made in China for 12,800 pounds, quite recently on March 26 and was also sold on eBay.
Further investigation shows that the seller is also selling TV parts and mobile phones which got bad reviews.
Another seller, based in China, is selling the same type of ventilator for $2,100 ,which is less than eBay price by far. eBay was asked about the item, and they confirmed the sale of the item saying that if it does not reach the buyer, they will be giving refunds.
Soon after, another seller of the same machine was taken off the site with restrictions on the users' account.
On March 20, one ventilator was sold on eBay for 12,800 pounds. Research shows that the seller sold mobile phone cases and later anti-bacterial wipes.
According to eBay, the seller had documents to show about the sale. Later he cancelled and gave a full refund because he ran our of stock. eBay is now monitoring the transaction as a preventive measure.
High demand for pandemic related items has prevented advertising on Facebook, pledging a ban on March 19 of related posts that are overpriced. Despite this pledge, some ads are still online, but Facebook said it would do something about it.
Chloroquine sold in the dark web
Since the misunderstood pronouncement of Chloroquine as a cure, there is a huge demand for it because of the COVID-19 crisis. Chloroquine is an anti-malaria drug used for Lupus was never verified as a cure for COVID-19, and has harmed or killed those taking it.
Empire and Kingdom are now selling chloroquine that is not legal. These shady companies sell illegal recreational and prescription drugs which are not cures for COVID-19. They even claim that the drug kills coronavirus.
In the dark web or other online platforms, the black-market trade in chloroquine, test kits, ventilators will endanger gullible folks who do not know any better.