Brits among those flogging PPE worth £450k on Dark Web while NHS heroes die without protection – The Sun

BRITS are taking part in a £450,000 online trade flogging personal protective equipment (PPE) and bogus coronavirus cures while our NHS heroes die on the frontline

Researchers have discovered a number of sellers on the dark web claiming to be based in Britain trying to cash in on the pandemic.

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In a report by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), at least 17 dark web traders dealing in bogus coronavirus vaccines and selling PPE were found linked to the UK.

The dark web is a layer of the internet that can only be accessed through certain browsers and is not indexed by search engines.

Britain was second only to the United States – who had 394 – for the number of dealers in study of up to 645 listings on 12 dark web marketplaces.

Sweden came next with 10, followed by Spain with eight, Germany with seven, and Austria with four.

China and Australia had three listings each, France, India, Italy, Belgium and Denmark had two, while Canada, Turkey, Finland and New Zealand had just one.

Another 182 accounts did not list their whereabouts, and one listed itself as worldwide.

It comes as the NHS continues to be in desperate need for PPE amid an international shortage.

World Health Organisation chiefs have said prices have surged with costs of surgical masks now six times higher than before the outbreak.

Britain held a minute of silence this week for the more than 90 frontline NHS workers who have died from the virus since March 25.

The government have admitted supplies are short, and officials have said they are doing "everything they can" to get hold of masks, gowns and gloves.

And meanwhile, the scammers continue to line their pockets by flogging gear at extortionate prices.

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AIC experts said the trade was worth up to half a million pounds based on all listings found in the study.

It is unclear from the report what items the Brits were selling, but experts found dealers trading items such as phony vaccines, bulk lots of N95 masks, testing kits and unproven drugs.

PPE was found to be the most common items on sale, with at least 224 listings for masks, sanitisers, gowns, protetctive suits and gloves.

One listing boasted a "miracle cure" for coronavirus with the anti-malaria drug Hydroxychloroquine for £71, and another claimed it was offering 10,000 "high quality" face masks for £9,100.

They also found a "Covid-19 antidote" being sold for £13,000 – along with blood allegedly from coronavirus patients that could be used as a passive vaccine.

Scientists believe a vaccine still may be up to a year away, so anyone touting to be selling one online is a likely to be a fraudster.

The AIC suggested some the vaccines being sold may be stolen or leaked from labs where they are undergoing trials.

It came as the NHS warned today about scams selling low quailty PPE circulating sold online.

Wilf Williams, an NHS Covid-19 strategic commander for Kent, urged people not to buy the supplies with the intent to donate them – and inside give money directly to the service.

Home secretary Priti Patel has vowed to crack down on scammers who are taking advantage of the pandemic.

Speaking on Saturday, she said: "I refuse to allow criminals to take advantage of these unprecedented times."

National Crime Agency chief Lynne Owens added cops will take "swift action" against anyone selling fake PPE.

The UK's coronavirus death toll today surpassed 27,000 – as it emerged twice as many people have died from the bug in poor areas as they have in rich ones.

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