EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Government agencies are warning the public of emerging fraud schemes related to COVID-19 vaccines.
The FBI has received complaints of scammers preying upon the public’s desire to receive the vaccine to obtain personal information or money.
“They’re going to be doing this in a multitude of ways,” says Special Agent Jeffrey Reisinger, Financial Crimes Squad at the FBI El Paso Division. “They could be using telephone calls, they could be using social media, they could be using text message, as well as trying to contact people door-to-door.”
Reisinger says the El Paso area has not reported cases of COVID-19 vaccine scams, but the FBI is taking precautions.
“This is something that is emerging at this point, and we want to make sure as we are trying to be proactive to make sure people are keeping their guard up — especially now that the end is in sight,” says Reisinger.
The FBI is one of many government agencies working to combat pandemic-related fraud.
Last month, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) launched “Operation Stolen Promise 2.0” that is working to identify and prevent the production, sale and distribution of bogus COVID-19 vaccines and other products.
“We are committed to protecting the American public and global supply chain from fraud related to COVID vaccines and treatments. We will continue to use our broad legal authorities and longstanding relationships with domestic and international law enforcement agencies and private sector partners to address this emerging public health threat, and will sustain our efforts to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks seeking to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Derek Benner, Executive Associate Director for HSI.
The FBI says the following are signs of scams:
- You are asked to pay out-of-pocket for the vaccine
- You are asked to pay to put your name on a vaccine waiting list or to get early access
- Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from other unsolicited or unknown sources
- Marketers offering to sell or ship does of the vaccine for payment
The City of El Paso launched a new website that is a resource of information and also guides users through the vaccine registration process. You can access that website here.