SCAM ALERT: COVID-19 Vaccine Scam

December 19th · 2 min read

Can’t wait for life to go back to normal? Don’t fall for these COVID-19 vaccine scams that can affect your wallet and your health.

With news that the COVID-19 vaccine is rolling out, beware of vaccine scams threatening to steal your money, put you at risk for identity theft, and leave you with long-lasting side effects from unknown ingredients in fake vaccines.

COVID-19 Scams started back in March when claims of cures and fake testing kids started popping up everywhere. Now that the completion of the vaccine is so close, websites claiming they can put you at the head of the line for the vaccine are beginning to appear as well.

The COVID-19 vaccine is scheduled to be released in waves. Priority for the vaccine will be given to healthcare workers and those who live or work in long-term care facilities. Given the time needed to produce the vaccine, this a potentially long wait for those who aren’t on the vaccine priority list. It’s no secret to scammers how desperate the world is to get back to normal life and they’re using this to their advantage.

How the Scam Works

Scammers are creating websites promising a vaccine available for home administration. On these websites, they’re preying on the emotions of fear and urgency as they push concerned citizens to act fast before supplies run out. Tim Mackey, a professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, reports that scammers are using language such as “Get your order before it’s too late or the product is not available.”.

People desperate for a vaccine to cover themselves or a loved one are falling for these scams by entering their personal and financial information in hopes that they’ll receive one of the first publicly available doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

This is where the scam takes a scary turn.

At best, victims of this scam will simply be out of the money they spent for a vaccine that never existed and deal with the possibility of identity theft. That’s a hefty consequence on it’s own.

For others, a vaccine may actually arrive. This is problematic because the “vaccine” that they receive may not actually be a real COVID-19 vaccine. Victims might receive an expired or spoiled vaccine since the strict freezing temperatures haven’t been adhered to or they might receive something different altogether.

Mackey says, “If they do take a vaccine that's not effective, they could obviously have side effects associated with that. There could be sterility issues with a vaccine needle that could infect you with another disease, and also, of course, you're going to engage in behavior that may make you more susceptible to actually getting COVID”.

How can I avoid COVID-19 Vaccine Scams?

  • Make sure that you’re always using browser protection to block websites containing the COVID-19 Vaccine scam and other scams.

  • Use data breach monitoring tools to ensure that you’re alerted right away when your information is published on the deep web. By receiving an early alert, this can allow you to take steps to avoid identity theft.

  • Only accept a vaccine administered through a medical professional.

  • If you don’t already have a primary care physician, check with your local health department for a published list of approved COVID-19 vaccine providers. For United States residents, this will be a website published by your county of residence ending in .gov.


NBC San Diego

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