COVID-19 vaccine scams popping up across social media

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 6:23 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Scammers are looking to cash in on people’s quest to get the coronavirus vaccine.

“What we’ve seen is a huge trend of fraudulent vaccine websites since the beginning of the year,” said Yoav Keren, CEO of cybersecurity firm BrandShield.

He’s seen a huge increase in the registrations of websites that are using the word “vaccine.”

BrandShield worked with the Pharmaceutical Security Institute and found more than 5,000 suspicious websites and 20,000 social media pages and posts that are dealing with a vaccine and are potentially abusive.

“The public should know that these websites are actually fraudulent and that you cannot buy a vaccine online,” he said.

It’s happening on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

You’ll see an ad, possibly from an alleged pharmacy, offering you to buy a vaccine.

Don’t click: It’s most likely a scam.

“In the past, people would use – the cyber criminals would use email more and more to defraud people. There’s more awareness of that and now social media has become a major threat,” said Karen.

Keren also said scammers could be impersonating one of the big pharmaceutical companies that produces the vaccine.

They’ll lead you to a page to buy the vaccine.

“What they will do is they will either sell you something that can kill you. Or, they might actually just steal your money by taking your credentials or infiltrate your system,” he said.

These fake vaccine sites could also contain malware that could destroy your computer or your network.

“Both companies and people should be aware and protect themselves against these threats,” said Keren.

One simple rule is to never buy a vaccine online.

You can’t get them online, they’re free right here at home, and if you have any questions about where to get them you should go to your state or local health departments or doctor.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, no one from a vaccine distribution site will ever contact you asking for your financial information like a credit card to sign up for the vaccine.

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