Fraud Watch: Vaccine-related scams pose a threat to public health | Lifestyles
We are past the one-year mark for the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, and in conjunction with safe practices and vaccines, we are now emerging from the dark and back to the sun. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the scams and con artists who thrive on COVID-19. New scams have emerged that focus on vaccines.
A significant portion of the public is opposed to vaccination and criminals know it. A number of anti-vax social media posts are counting on this reluctance. Text messages, emails and social media posts promote an attractive and acceptable alternative; a regimen of tablets or even a single capsule that offers the same, if not better, protection against the virus. While scientists at Pfizer indicate that such a pill could be produced by the end of the year, there is no such cure in the world today.
These bogus cures leave victims unprotected who pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars for placebos. As bad as it is, this scam is getting worse. It endangers the public, encouraging unprotected people to forgo protective items and socialize. This scam, like so many others related to COVID, is a “perfect storm” and reinforces the need to remind readers of basic protection recommendations. It exploits our underlying fear of the virus and our human desire to dispel that fear. The scam comes to us personally with a simple solution – a pill.
Excuse the pun, but a pill is much easier for most of us to swallow than a series of injections.
It’s about wishing something to be true to the point of clouding judgment. Consider this: if a simple cure, ‘pop a pill and COVID goes away,’ were available, it would reverberate in the media, on the front pages of newspapers and on Amber Alert signs everywhere, not coming to you. as an email message overnight.
Tip # 1: Don’t let emotion get over you. Take a step back and think before you act and consider what is on offer. These criminals want you to be emotional and act immediately. Ignore the message to act now.
Tip # 2: To ask questions. Is the remedy approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? Can you send me the results of clinical trials? Which company manufactures the product? Chances are, the answer to these questions is no!
Tip # 3: Consider how the seller wants the payment? Any mention of gift cards is a lethal gift that this is a scam.
Tip # 4: Beware of targeted emails. These things are very misleading. In particular, look at the sender’s email address. Gmail, Ymail, Hotmail addresses are not used by businesses.
Tip # 5: Perform background research. Check with your state department of health. They would know if such a cure exists. Sometimes a simple “googling” reveals the truth.
Tip # 6: Report the crime. These offers are criminal, so call or go online to your national consumer assistance agency or attorney general’s office and file a report. The crime can be reported nationally to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). By the way, these tips can be applied to other deals and deals that raise the question “Is this too good to be true?”
A second new COVID-19 scam is growing in popularity with the same drawbacks as described above. Criminals have discovered that there is a lucrative business in selling fake COVID-19 vaccine cards. The process is actually quite simple and requires very little sophistication. Obtain a valid COVID-19 vaccine card showing details of a complete vaccine administration. Scan the card on a relatively inexpensive scanner and use editing software to change the name on the card and you have “proof” of vaccination (fake cards are also available on the internet for $ 100 to $ 200). With the card in hand, you can attend sporting events, take commercial flights, attend concerts and more.
AARP Vermont Fraud Watch offers a bimonthly series of free online seminars for everyone. Each program is offered twice, once at 10 a.m. (bit.ly/3ayN7Z7) and another at 7 p.m. (bit.ly/3pApZ0P).
Elliott Greenblott is a retired educator and the Vermont coordinator of the AARP Fraud Watch Network. It produces a CATV television program, “Mr. Scammer ”, distributed by GNAT-TV in Sunderland.