COVID-19 might be slowing down, but one thing that is not are scammers using the global pandemic to rip people off. Before a vaccine was being administered, fraudsters used the opportunity to make some fast money by promising accelerated access.
Now that the vaccine rollout is in full swing, thieves are using it to spread scams. Tap or click here to see when you’re eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. From sending out phishing emails and texts to having a sure-fire investment plan, they will stop at nothing to get your details and money.
Internet security company ESET says that it has seen a rise in these scams and is warning people to be extra vigilant. It can be easy to fall into a trap if you don’t recognize a scam’s signs. Here are some of the ways that scammers are using the COVID-19 vaccine to trick people:
Bogus business proposal
Many people have been receiving emails from someone claiming to work for a company that manufactures the vaccine. In others, the scammer claims to work in the technology field responsible for the vaccine’s storage and transportation.
Here are a couple of example email:
There are several obvious signs that these are scams:
- You should question why a scientist or director at a laboratory would contact you personally regarding the vaccine. That should already be suspicious, as manufacturers negotiate with governments directly.
- Wording in the emails is very ambiguous, and there is virtually no information as to what they want from you.
- The reply email address is often not legitimate. In one example, the email was sent from ProtonMail. While ProtonMail is a real email provider, a lab director would use his company’s email address.
- Grammatical mistakes in official correspondences are a huge giveaway.
Fraudulent freezing opportunity
In another example, the scammer claims to work for a company that manufactures freezers that store vaccines. ESET notes that this example is rather sophisticated, as the scammer clearly put effort into it.
While the manufacturer, their certificates, and product do exist, they do not work for them. How can you tell? Well, upon closer inspection, it has all the signs of a scam:
- The subject line misspells the company’s name.
- The greeting is generic and impersonal.
- Several spelling errors are made throughout the text.
- The email lacks a professional signature at the end.
Other signs to look out for
“You can be sure that enterprising crooks will be doubling down on their efforts as the vaccine rollout continues. Also, given the rapid increase in new coronavirus variants, it would not be surprising to see that pop up in COVID-19-themed scams,” ESET explains in its blog post.
Some scam emails will directly go into your email’s spam folder, but if some do make it through, here are some tips to stay safe:
- Never click on links inside an unsolicited email. You might have good anti-virus software, but malware is becoming increasingly sophisticated.
- Never download an attachment from an email that you don’t recognize or that seems fishy.
- Use common sense when you receive an unsolicited business proposal or offer. Some will claim to be a “once in a lifetime” offer. If it seems too good to be true, delete the email immediately.