March 30, 2021

Buyer Beware: Fighting COVID Vaccine Fraud

Buyer Beware: Fighting COVID Vaccine Fraud

Scams. They are as old as medicine itself. Fraudsters prey on people's fears and concerns by pretending they have a wonder drug or access to a restricted item, then offer it up for sale at a premium. The COVID-19 pandemic seemed to check all the boxes — especially vaccines, when it comes to criminals trying to take advantage of the system. A real-life miracle drug that prevents a real life pandemic, and not enough to go around. Already we've heard of cases from Florida to New York of attempts to steal vials of the COVID vaccines. In China and South Africa, INTERPOL seized thousands of doses of counterfeit vaccines. On March 24, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and INTERPOL issued a joint public warning: "Be vigilant, be skeptical, be safe'"— to explain the latest scams out there, how they work and how to keep from falling prey. Mike Alfonso is assistant special agent in-charge at HSI — an arm of ICE — and coordinator for the agency's COVID-19 vaccine investigations. He joins us on this week's episode to explain what the latest scams are, how they work, and what you should know to protect yourself.