As if COVID-19 hasn’t deeply affected everyone’s lives already, now there are criminals who are sending COVID-19 vaccine email scams to unsuspecting victims and creating fake websites.
The FBI has already started warning the public about these fraudulent websites and emails. Two such websites were seized in Maryland. The two domains were for biotechnology companies that were purportedly developing COVID-19 treatments. In reality, these sites were created to collect personally identifiable information (PII) of individuals visiting the site. With this information, the criminals could then send phishing emails or deploy malware.
Criminals are also texting and cold calling people offering their fake vaccines.
Reuters did a little research and found seven different offers for these fake COVID-19 vaccines. Some included scam emails offering access to a super-secret list for early access to the vaccine, while others were listing on more of the dark-web message boards. A Few of these offers have asked for $110 to $180 per vaccine. That should be a big red flag for most, but many are so worried about getting the vaccine, they would likely pay it.
The small number of real vaccines that are available has led to miscommunication and caused confusion for the public. This makes many people prime targets for scams. People who are fearful or desperate will often overlook red flags such as the high cost of supposed vaccines, or that the vaccines are intended to be distributed by healthcare professionals and not by someone who claims to be from Wuhan, China.
The biggest takeaway form this is if you receive a text or email offering a link where you can sign up for your vaccine, don’t click on it. It is likely a scam and will either capture your information for criminal use later or will happily give you malware. You can learn more about phishing and social engineering on our blog.
If you have questions, contact your healthcare provider, but please be kind to them. They are working hard to get people the information they need but are inundated with questions.