COVID-19 Vaccine Scam

Updated 16 January 2021

Never let a good crisis go to waste – at least this is what Cyber criminals and Scammers have been doing all this year in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been multiple scams and cyber attacks relating to the pandemic (we will review some of them in our 2020 annual review), including:

  • Fake cures
  • Fake News
  • Work from Home attack vectors
  • VPN attacks
  • Phishing and other social engineering attacks
  • Healthcare organisations hit by ransomware
  • Vaccine researchers hacked
  • Fake infection tracking sites that look like the official ones but distribute malware.

Now we have vaccines being distributed, we are seeing another attack vector relating to getting a free vaccination and offers for a cheap vaccination. We are also seeing people being contacted via SMS, Phone, email, Instant Messenger apps and I expect paper mail drops will start at some point.

Currently (18 December 2020) the only vaccine that has been approved in the UK is the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that is being distributed by the NHS. As more become approved, and supply improves, the distribution will ramp up. However, right now the only way to get the vaccine in the UK is via the NHS. You will be called forward to be offered the vaccine by your GP or a Hospital. The vaccination programme is also very targeted to the highly vulnerable and front line healthcare workers, so unless you fall within that group you will not be offered a vaccine until later in 2021.

If you receive a communication that does not come from your GP or a Hospital, it is unlikely to be genuine. If they are asking for payment, or to give them personal information, is is likely fake as the vaccine through the NHS is currently free of payment at source.

The vaccine is not currently being distributed using independent companies (similar to the flu and travel vaccinations offered by Pharmacies).

Update 16/01/2021: In the UK local pharmacies are starting to provide vaccination services for Covid19. However, as of now you will have to show that you have been invited to have the vaccination through the NHS as it is being rolled out in phased/age based approach. Please be extra vigilant about fake invitations offering you an expedited vaccination for a fee as the only valid invitations are from the NHS and the vaccination is free to all in the UK.

In other countries the same may be happening, but you still need to know the official source of the vaccine in your country.

Conclusion

If you are in the UK, keep an eye on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine – NHS (www.nhs.uk) website for updates on the vaccination programme and Coronavirus (COVID-19) – NHS (www.nhs.uk) for broader information on the pandemic.

If you are outside the UK, your government will be publishing its own guidance, just make sure the site is genuine.

We have also published a number of blogs since March, which you can also use as references:

Keep safe, and keep screening all these scam calls, emails, etc. Our standing advice is never to tap/click on a link (however it has been received) and to use an authenticated bookmarked browser link to go to the genuine site to get information and confirmation, or use a known contact phone number.


Headline image provided by Morning Brew on Unsplash

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