A COVID-19 shot for $150? Online scams surge as slow vaccine rollout frustrates
NEW YORK (Reuters) – As millions of people await their turn to get a COVID-19 vaccine that could be months away, scammers online, in emails and on messaging apps are luring victims with claims they can deliver shots within days for as little as $150.
COVID-19 vaccine scams are on the rise, according to European and U.S. government officials who are warning the public of fraudsters out for money and personal data.
A Reuters search online, in dark web forums and on messaging app Telegram found seven different offers for alleged COVID-19 vaccines.
Scams include emails promising entry to supposedly secret lists for early vaccine access and robocallers impersonating government agencies. Message boards on the so-called dark web have added COVID-19 vaccines to more traditional illicit goods for sale.
The U.S. FBI and Interpol, among others, have warned of emerging pandemic-related fraud schemes, saying false cures and vaccines advertised on fake websites could pose cyber threats and a significant risk to peoples’ health, or even lives.
Website domains containing the word vaccine in combination with COVID-19 or coronavirus more than doubled since October to roughly 2,500 in November, when the first legitimate vaccines were nearing regulatory approval, according to cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, which is tracking COVID-19 fraud online.