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DHS, drug makers provide tips to avoid scams as distribution of coronavirus vaccines begins

As several coronavirus vaccines move toward approval, not only is the general public anxious for them to be widely distributed in hopes of getting back to a normal life, but so are the scammers, who are “ready to use that desperation to their advantage,” federal investigators told The Associated Press.

(Image from WHSV-TV, via Kentucky Health News)

Department of Homeland Security investigators are working with Pfizer, Moderna and other drug companies who are working to create and distribute coronavirus vaccines in an effort to prepare for the scams that are sure to come, “especially after the mess of criminal activity this year with phony personal protective equipment, false cures and extortion schemes,” AP’s Colleen Long reports.

“We’re all very excited about the potential vaccine and treatments,” Steve Francis, assistant director for global trade investigations, told Long. “But I also caution against these criminal organizations and individuals that will try to exploit the American public.”

Long reports that “investigators are learning about how the vaccine will be packaged and getting the message out to field agents, creating a mass database of information from more than 200 companies, so they can be prepared to spot fakes and crack down on dangerous fraud. They are monitoring tens of thousands of false websites and looking for evidence of fake cures sold online.”

AP lists Homeland Security’s tips to avoid falling victim to such scams:

• Always consult a licensed medical professional to obtain a covid-19 vaccine or treatment.
• Make sure your doctor or nurse practitioner has been approved to administer the covid-19 vaccine.
• Do not buy covid-19 vaccines or treatments through an online pharmacy or other internet sources.
• Ignore large, unsolicited offers for vaccinations and miracle treatments or cures.
• Don’t respond to text messages, emails or calls about vaccines and treatments.
• Be wary of ads for vaccines and treatments on social media.
• Report suspicious activity to covid19investigations@dhs.gov.

From Kentucky Health News

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