- Interpol released a warning last week stating that organized crime networks may try to scam people into buying fraudulent COVID-19 vaccines.
- The real vaccine won’t be distributed online, so avoid circumventing the process for what may seem like early access to the shot.
- Some people may see an opportunity to profit off fraudulent medical products. In this case, it could put people’s health and livelihoods at risk.
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The top international law enforcement agency, Interpol, released a warning last week stating that organized crime networks may try to scam people into buying fraudulent COVID-19 vaccines.
Interpol also expressed concern that criminal organizations could attempt to interrupt the supply chain and steal legitimate doses of the vaccine.
The pandemic has presented a ripe opportunity for making and selling fraudulent products that claim to prevent and cure COVID-19.
“There is a supply and there is a demand. When the supply is less than the demand or when the demand outweighs the supply, there is an economic opportunity,” said Dr. Daniel Fagbuyi, an emergency room physician who served as a biodefense expert in the Obama administration.
Some people may see an opportunity to profit off fraudulent medical products. In this case, it could put people’s health and livelihoods at risk, Fagbuyi added.
Furthermore, people are eager for a vaccine after months of lockdowns, quarantines, and restrictions. It’s crucial to remain patient and trust that you’ll be able to get vaccinated soon.
If you’re not in the initial tier to receive the vaccine, which includes healthcare workers and older adults, know that “your turn is coming and you will have the vaccine,” Fagbuyi said.
When a vaccine is available, you’ll want to get the shot from a trustworthy healthcare provider, such as your doctor, an emergency room, or a designated location listed by your local public health department.
Interpol suspects much of the misinformation regarding fraudulent vaccines will take place online.
The real vaccine won’t be distributed online, so avoid circumventing the process for what may seem like early access to the shot.
“It looks like it, but it’s not really the original. People can be fooled, bamboozled, hoodwinked,” Fagbuyi said.
Vaccines take time to develop, test, and be evaluated and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said Benjamin Fenton, a healthcare attorney with Fenton Law Group.
“My advice is to always be suspicious, and if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is,” Fenton said. “Taking anything that is not FDA-approved can lead to extreme outcomes, including death.”
Fagbuyi said this sort of problem tends to be a geopolitical issue, as some rural and under-resourced areas may be more targeted.
“It can happen anywhere, but I think more so in areas where the technology and policing is not as available, areas where the government is not as stable, or where there may be factions,” Fagbuyi said.
Typically, in the United States, these scam operations are swiftly identified and shut down, according to Fenton.
“The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has launched Operation Stolen Promise 2.0 to combat criminal networks engaged in fraudulent COVID-19 activities, such as the production, sale, and distribution of unapproved or unauthorized COVID-19 products and drugs,” Fenton said.
This isn’t the first time some companies and criminal organizations have attempted to sell fraudulent medical products or drugs on the black market.
“We’ve had many incidents of this before. You can go to the drug epidemic with regards to opiates and access to it and abuse of access to it,” Fagbuyi said. “That’s why you have regulatory bodies to help regulate these sorts of things, but they get onto the black market.”
Throughout the pandemic, too, there have been several products falsely claiming to prevent or cure COVID-19.
“The FDA has issued thousands of
It’ll be crucial for local law enforcement to be on the lookout for fake COVID-19 vaccines.
Fagbuyi is confident that people won’t be given a fake vaccine if they go through their local health department.
“Don’t try to circumvent the system by trying to get something online or by a nonreputable source, because you could put yourself at risk,” Fagbuyi said.
The top international law enforcement agency, Interpol, released a warning last week that organized crime networks may try to scam people into buying fraudulent COVID-19 vaccines.
The pandemic has been fraught with companies selling fake or misleading products that claim to prevent or cure COVID-19.
When a vaccine does become available, be on the lookout for fake vaccines, especially online.
Only get vaccinated through a trusted healthcare provider or your local health department.
Circumventing the official process could put your life at risk.