Feds warn of counterfeit COVID-19 vaccine fraud
UPDATED 3:45 PM PT – Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Homeland Security officials said criminals are looking to take advantage of Americans by attempting to sell unapproved treatments and preventions for COVID-19.
According to reports, investigators have already identified 60,000 websites suspected of fraudulent activity.
Back in April, the Feds launched ‘Operation Stolen Promise’ to combat such coronavirus-related fraud.
“It was a global strategy that brought together our global trade investigations division, our financial division, our cybercrimes division,” Director of National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center Steve Francis said. “As well as our international operations to combat the illicit activity relating to COVID-19 fraud.”
In addition to studying how the vaccine will be packaged, investigators are creating a mass database to identify fakes.
In addition to knock-off vaccines, authorities are tracking fake products that have made their way through the American supply chain.
“Homeland Security Investigations is working very closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection on protecting the U.S. supply chain,” Francis added. “Essentially looking at all the illicit products coming into the United States that were either counterfeit, fraudulent or sub-standard that related to personal protective equipment, medical gowns, antiviral products, counterfeit and hazardous pharmaceuticals that were entering the U.S. supply chain.”
However, these scams reach worldwide.
‘Interpol‘ recently issued a warning to 194 member countries about criminal organizations that threaten to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains as governments prepare to roll out vaccines across the globe.
The warning came as the U.K. became the first in the world to approve the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use.
Authorities said people may be growing desperate during this time, but must be patient. Additionally, people should always consult with a medical professional before taking any treatments or vaccinations.
Authorities added scammers will be targeting the most vulnerable. They warned if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.