COVID-19 Vaccination Scams At-a-Glance
The United States is no stranger to COVID-19-related scams. Over the past year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) logged more than 384,000 consumer complaints related to COVID-19 and stimulus checks, 69% involving fraud or identity theft. These losses totaled $368 million.
Federal agencies have notified the public about fraudsters taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic since it entered the country. Price gouging, extortion, and stimulus check scams are some examples of prominent scams that occurred over the year. Now, authorities warn of vaccine-related scams.
Fraud schemes related to COVID-19 vaccines are the newest threat to consumers. According to the FBI, possible indicators of COVID-19 fraud include:
- Advertisements or offers for early access to a vaccine upon payment of a deposit or fee
- Requests asking victims to pay out of pocket to obtain the vaccine or to put their name on a COVID-19 vaccine waiting list
- Offers to undergo additional medical testing or procedures when obtaining a vaccine
- Marketers offering to sell and/or ship doses of a vaccine, domestically or internationally, in exchange for payment of a deposit or fee
- Unsolicited emails, telephone calls, or personal contact from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company, or COVID-19 vaccine center requesting personal and/or medical information to determine recipients’ eligibility to participate in clinical vaccine trials or obtain the vaccine
- Claims of FDA approval for a vaccine that cannot be verified
- Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources
- Individuals contacting victims in person, by phone, or by email to say that government officials require them to receive a COVID-19 vaccine
Keep in mind that possible indicators of COVID-19 fraud are not always actual indicators of fraud. For instance, victims of fraud may not realize they’re victims quite yet. They may circulate fraudulent claims online that they believe to be true, putting them at risk of getting fraud accusations.
Say, for example, you got a Facebook message claiming you can get a vaccine without waiting in line if you pay $5. All you have to do is give your contact information and payment details to enjoy this offer. Sounds nice, right? As such, you forward the message to your friends and family, and everyone signs up. Unfortunately, this means everyone ― including yourself ― fell for a scam. The only difference is you may be held responsible if circumstances call for it.
With this in mind, it is very likely for innocent people to share/repost false information about the COVID-19 vaccine unknowingly and unintentionally. After all, the online world is filled with false information that appears legitimate. But the last thing you deserve is to get accused of a fraud scheme you didn’t know you were apart of.
If you are facing fraud charges in Santa Barbara, let us know so we can formulate a legal plan of action for you. Give us a call at (805) 467-6060 to get started!