COVID-19 vaccine scams on the rise as vaccine distribution continues

Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 10:57 AM CST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - As COVID-19 vaccines continue to be rolled out across the nation, scammers are looking to cash in by convincing consumers that they could receive a dose before anyone else.

According to the local Better Business Bureau (BBB), scammers will contact someone by call, email, or text and pretend to be with a health organization saying, “if you want the COVID vaccine, pay $1,000.” This is false information and the number of reports for incidents like this has nearly doubled since the vaccines roll out.

“If you want to receive a free COVID testing kit delivered to your home overnight press 1.”

If you receive a phone call like this, hang up because chances are, it is a scam.

Michele Mason from the BBB says just a couple of days ago, a local man who wished to remain anonymous, fell victim to a similar call.

“He received a phone call from a scammer saying before he could get his vaccine, he needed a COVID test and to provide his healthcare information,” Mason said. “They got his Medicare information.”

Soliciting people for money is just one way scammers will try to cash in. They are also out for personal information.

“They are being sought out through text messages, email messages, or even clicking on a link could wreak havoc on your personal accounts,” Mason said.

The BBB confirms they have seen an increase in scams using robocalls to impersonate government officials like the health department.

But Mason says government organizations will never solicit you for money, or promise to get you ahead of the line for a vaccine.

“In our local marketplace, there are so many vaccines available, but yet there are so many people waiting,” Mason said.

Mason says scammers use vulnerabilities like this to target seniors or people eager to receive the vaccine.

According to the BBB, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is working with the drug companies developing the vaccines to stop the sale and distribution of phony versions that scammers could be pushing.

“Make sure you do your research before you fall for anything,” Mason said.

Ignore any calls that demand immediate attention. Scammers try to get you to act before you think. Don’t fall for it.

Copyright 2021 WTVM. All rights reserved.

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