You can’t pre-order a Covid19 vaccine, and other scams
US officials are preparing to decide whether to approve Pfizer’s Coronavirus vaccine; but scammers are already ahead of the game, putting your finances and health at risk. Canada and some European nations have already approved the vaccine, and experts anticipate that the US will soon follow suit. With the announcement of an approved vaccine mere days ahead of us, the Federal Trade Commission and medical experts are warning that fake Covid-19 vaccine scams are already becoming an issue.
The most pervasive is a “pre-order,” where an overseas company purport to offer consumers the first jump on the vaccine. There are two cloaks under which these scammers are operating: 1.) offering a spot on the waiting list, which costs money and 2.) offering to ship a vaccine from another country. The offers are expertly disguised to sound legitimate, touting that other nations have already approved the vaccine. The FTC has definitively said there will be no list on which consumers can pay to put their name, and no private vaccine distribution channels – i.e. there will be none available for purchase from anyone other than a licensed medical provider. Further, the vaccine itself will be free to Americans, although the administrator of the vaccine may charge a fee for their service.
If you have already paid for or received what looks like a legitimate vaccine in the mail, beware that is guaranteed to be a fake, and there is no telling what is contained within that syringe. Immediately contact the police and CDC to make a report, and properly dispose of the potentially dangerous substance.
Tim Mackey, a professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, released a study in August detailing financial scams, counterfeit goods and unapproved treatments tied to the Coronavirus pandemic. He told San Diego’s ABC 7 news that fake vaccine needles could be unsterile and even infect you with another disease.
Mackey also said that once the vaccine is released in the US, consumers need to be aware of used vaccine needles and packaging containing unknown substances that could be resold as a legitimate vaccine. Another concern is spoiled vaccines – it has been widely reported that the Pfizer vaccine is temperature sensitive and spoils if not maintained. So there is a real risk that ruined legitimate vaccines could find their way onto the black market.
The FTC says consumers should be wary if contacted by phone, email or text concerning the vaccine. Currently, there is no plan to contact consumers individually. They also warn that email phishers are adept at disguising their messages to look like they’re coming from the CDC or WHO.
Use sites like coronavirus.gov and usa.gov/coronavirus to get the latest information.