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Vaccine scams on the way

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21st February, 2021

Cyber experts and authorities are warning of an inundation of vaccine scams, as Australia prepares to distribute COVID-19 vaccines from tomorrow, February 22.

The roll-out of the vaccine in the US and Britain has resulted in a surge of vaccine related scams, with a 300 per cent jump in vaccine-related website domains in the lead-up to the first shots being distributed.

Vaccine related cyber-attacks in the US and UK, have occurred primarily through phishing, with individuals and criminal organisations looking at obtaining credentials for individuals.

Cyber criminals have also set up fake British National Health Service websites that send emails asking for confirmation of vaccination appointments as a way of stealing people’s identities.

With the impending rollout of the vaccine in Australia, it is predicted there will be a rise in text message scams, given some internet users were becoming wise to phishing scams.

In the US people received text messages asking them to pay $US150 [$190] to jump the queue and get early access to the vaccine and it is predicted this will happen here too.

It is also predicted that some of the scam attacks would come from foreign actors emulating company suppliers, such as drug companies or health insurers to help fool their targets.

In the US, criminal networks targeted unsuspecting members of the public selling fake vaccine appointments, fake vaccine cards and even fake vaccines, with some going as far as injecting people with an unknown substance after collecting their payment.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch has received at least 5866 scam reports mentioning the coronavirus, with more than $7.5 million in reported losses since the outbreak of COVID-19, according to a spokesman.

The ACCC Scamwatch messaging focuses on scammers exploiting people’s desire to get the vaccine early.

Be alert and do not provide any personal or financial information.