Covid-19 update: Website selling fake coronavirus vaccine kits shuts down
In an official release, the US Justice Department said the operators of the website “coronavirusmedicalkit.com” were engaged “in a wire fraud scheme seeking to profit from the confusion and widespread fear surrounding COVID-19”.Updated: Mar 24, 2020 11:05 IST
Novel coronavirus cases the globe see no sign of abating. As world economies struggle to find ways to tackle the menace, one of the prime challenges is to counter the spread of misinformation and scams around Covid-19.
In one such attempt, the US Justice Department on Sunday acted against a case of coronavirus fraud and took down a scam website that was offering consumers access to World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine kits in exchange for a shipping charge of $4.95.
In an official release, the US Justice Department said the operators of the website “coronavirusmedicalkit.com” were engaged “in a wire fraud scheme seeking to profit from the confusion and widespread fear surrounding COVID-19”.
Justice Department Files Its First Enforcement Action against COVID-19 Fraud https://t.co/3A37F5a5xf— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) March 22, 2020
“Information published on the website claimed to offer consumers access to World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine kits in exchange for a shipping charge of $4.95, which consumers would pay by entering their credit card information on the website,” the release noted.
“We will use every resource at the government’s disposal to act quickly to shut down these most despicable of scammers, whether they are defrauding consumers, committing identity theft, or delivering malware,” Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division said.
According to a report by news agency Associated Press, scamsters are targeting the elderly by peddling fake Covid-19 tests to Medicare recipients.
Alerting seniors to fraud, the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office said it has seen marketing schemes rapidly pivot to offering tests for COVID-19 and “Senior Care Packages” with hand sanitizer or even tout a vaccine, which doesn’t exist. Some marketers falsely claim that Trump has ordered that seniors get tested.
“It’s a straight-up ruse to get your Medicare number or your Social Security number under the guise of having a test kit or a sanitary kit sent to you,” said Christian Schrank, assistant inspector general for investigations.
The total number of confirmed Covid-19 infections across the globe stands at 334,981 with 14,652 deaths globally as per the data from the World Health Organisation.
(With inputs from agencies)