A warning from a leading cyber-security expert that criminals are doing all they can to cash in on people's desire to get vaccinated quickly.
“There are really bad people out there that are trying to take advantage of this crisis,” says Yoav Keren.
We spoke with BrandShield CEO Yoav Keren from his headquarters in Israel. His company, which specializes in hunting down and removing online threats, just issued new, troubling findings. In the first two months of 2021 Keren says more than 5000 suspicious COVID19 vaccine web pages have been registered. They've tracked more than 20,000 potentially fraudulent posts on popular social media.
Keren says, “We use artificial intelligence and machine learning, very deep technology to monitor and analyze these websites and then take them down.”
Keren is sounding the alarm on this massive spike in covid fraud.
“They are selling fake vaccines that can kill people. We’ve even seen hard seltzers covid19 vaccines," says Keren.
He also provided screen shots of actual sites BrandShield has uncovered offering vaccines for money. Keren says these sophisticated websites are made to look like on-line pharmacies and even pharmaceutical companies.
“If they see an ad on social media that is offering them to buy a vaccine, it’s a scam. If they see a social media page or post that is offering them to buy a vaccine, it’s a scam," adds Keren.
The Federal Trade Commission reports Americans have lost 382-million dollars to schemes linked to the pandemic. Those over 60 – most at risk from dying of the virus – have been hit hardest with losses at nearly 90-million dollars.
“It’s really confusing for people. People are falling for this,” concludes Keren.
The key to remember is that here in the US, only government-approved locations provide vaccinations. And vaccines are free. Also, you can’t buy vaccines. Anywhere. Anyone offering you a vaccine in-person, on-line, over the phone for money is trying to trick you.
For more information from the FTC on how you can avoid scams, click here.