NORFOLK, Va. – Authorities in Norfolk are reporting an increase in the number of phone and e-mail scams that have to do with COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
A representative for the Norfolk Bureau of the Federal Bureau of Investigation says criminals are finding a way to steal money and identities nationwide, including here in Hampton Roads.
“It is all over the board. Criminals are taking every opportunity to leverage the COVID-19 crisis to scam money and personal information - not just from businesses and individuals, but also they’re taking advantage of CARES Act and government provisions,” explained Christina Pullen, Public Affairs Officer for the Norfolk Division of the FBI.
The FBI and the Virginia Department of Health want the public to know the COVID-19 vaccine is always free. No one should ask for money to put you on a wait list or to get a shot, in-person or shipped.
“We won’t send you a vaccine to begin with, so if somebody trying to order it for you, that’s a that’s a red flag that there’s some type of fraud that’s probably going on,” said Larry Hill, the Public Information Officer for Virginia Health Department’s Eastern Region.
Pullen added that individuals should not be asked about immigration status or asked for their Social Security number.
“If that information they’re asking for doesn’t make sense, isn’t related to getting a vaccine, then the community should be very skeptical about that information,” Pullen stated.
The following tips were sent from the FBI:
Signs of potential scams:
- You are asked to pay out of pocket to get the vaccine.
- You are asked to pay to put your name on vaccine waiting list or to get early access.
- You are offered a vaccine appointment but asked to provide financial information, or irrelevant personal information such as your Social Security number.
To report any possible fraud, go to ic3.gov or 1-800-CALL-FBI. You can also contact the Virginia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section at 1-800-552-9963.