FBI warns about scams using peoples’ interest in COVID-19 vaccines

Complains about scam campaigns relying on false vaccine information: criminals interested in PII and money

FBI warns about fraud scams related to Covid-19 vaccineCOVID-19 scams involve online campaigns that aim for PII and money by impersonating vaccine creators or the government.

Fraud schemes related to the COVID-19 vaccine started surfacing online more and more recently.[1] This factor encouraged the FBI and other US federal agencies to issue warnings about such scammers exploiting the particular interest in vaccines. The main goal of such fraud scams remains money and personally identifiable information that can be used in future scams.[2]

FBI National Press Office by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a warning that informs people about received complaints.[3] The joint statement reads:

The FBI, HHS-OIG, and CMS have received complaints of scammers using the public’s interest in COVID-19 vaccines to obtain personally identifiable information (PII) and money through various schemes.

Potential fraud activity indicators include early vaccine access offer

FBI highlighted indications that should inform about possible fraudulent activity. The list contains various claims that should encourage people to pay for the listing on the early vaccination and transfer money for the option of getting the vaccine shipped to their home.[4]

Other indications:

  • ads with early access offers;
  • payment requirement for the early access;
  • deposit fee;
  • offers for additional medical testing or procedures;
  • shipping options exchange for the fee;
  • calls, emails, or personal contact from medical offices, insurance companies;
  • COVID-19 center calls requesting personal or medical information;
  • claims with FDA approvals without verification;
  • social media ads;
  • government officials requiring you to receive the vaccine over the phone or email.

Vaccine distributor should be researched before any transfers or agreements. You should make sure that the same distributor manufactures the vaccine that your healthcare providers inform you about. You need to take care of your health and always double-check with your primary care physician before going for something like this.

Multiple websites impersonating vaccine distributors already taken down

Various US federal agencies have urged people to be cautious during this time because phishing scams, fraudulent attacks, and scam campaigns are still popular and even more dangerous when it comes to times like this.[5] At least two websites impersonating the Moderna and Regeneron biotechnology companies have already been taken down by the FBI. These particular companies are involved in the development of a wanted COVID-19 vaccine.

Sites that use scamming techniques to obtain personal information and money directly from users are copied from the official pages. Cloned sites were used to run scams, infect devices with malware, and harvest personal information via phishing attacks directly. Such COVID-19 related scams have reportedly caused huge losses of money for people. FTC shared that people suffered financial losses of at least $211 million this year.

The US federal agencies urge everyone who believes to have been the victim of a COVID-19 fraud scam or any similar attack to report such attempts to the FBI promptly. It can be done via ic3.gov, tips.fbi.gov, or 1-800-CALL-FBI.

About the author
Gabriel E. Hall
Gabriel E. Hall - Passionate web researcher

Gabriel E. Hall is a passionate malware researcher who has been working for 2-spyware for almost a decade.

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