DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and authorities across the country warned of COVID-19 vaccine scams on Wednesday. Con artists are working overtime to profit off the pandemic, according to state and federal authorities.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported receiving complaints of scammers trying to steal money and personal information to commit identity fraud relating to vaccine distribution.
Scammers may promote a bogus promise of paying to “cut the vaccine line.” However, bureaucrats and consumer advocates said there won’t be any shortcuts in the distribution system.
“There’s no way you can buy your way to the head of the line,” said Roseann Freitas, spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau.
The BBB is tracking scams along with various law enforcement agencies.
“[Scammers] take advantage of things that are emotion-based,” Freitas said. “[The vaccine] is very emotion-based. It can be a solution for so many of our troubles right now.”
Weiser sent an alert to Coloradans Wednesday urging the public to stay vigilant when it comes to emails, phone calls, text message and social media posts.
“You’re not going to hear about a [legitimate] vaccine on a social media post that tells you, ‘Just pay this money and we’ll get you immediately vaccinated,'” Weiser said.
Scammers may also send links to infect computers with malware.
Under Colorado law, COVID-19 vaccine scammers could face fines of $20,000 to $50,000 per violation. Weiser said any Coloradan who is targeted or falls victim should report what happened to StopFraudColorado.gov.
“The problem with a lot of these complaints is that scam artists who are using— whether it’s social media, or emails— they’re not even in the US,” Weiser said. “What they know is they can prey on your hopes and your fears.”
The vaccine should not cost anything. The doses have already been paid for through tax dollars. While the vaccines are free to individuals, it is possible there could be a small administrative fee depending on insurance plans or lack of insurance, Weiser said.