Now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization for two COVID-19 vaccines, people should beware of scammers trying to capitalize on this milestone.
I recently spoke with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser about what Coloradans should look out for to avoid falling for a vaccine scam.
“Whenever there’s news, something that people hear about, the scammers take advantage of it,” he told me.
As health care workers across the country start to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, Weiser said people should keep their guard up against fraudsters.
“There will be scammers who will take advantage of people’s excitement or their fears about a vaccine, and their goal is always to get you to part with your money,” Weiser said. “They’ll ask you for your Social Security number, your bank number, your credit card number. Don’t do it.”
Even before a vaccine came along, Weiser said scammers were trying to market a “cure” to people who were concerned about getting infected.
“Unfortunately, during this time of COVID, people are being preyed on because there are hopes out there, let’s say for a cure, and there’s been a lot of efforts to market cures that, of course, aren’t scientifically proven and are taking advantage of people,” he said.
In addition to vaccine and other COVID-19 scams, Weiser said his office has seen more people fall victim to romance scams during the pandemic. This is when a stranger starts a conversation with you online and ropes you into feeling like you’re in a real relationship. The stranger then starts to ask you for money. You might remember, I recently wrote an article about a Colorado Springs woman who lost $95,000 to a man she felt romantically involved with online, but the person turned out to be a scammer. This example did not start during the pandemic, but it’s a good example of how easy it is to fall for something like this.
“There’s also been a lot of efforts to prey on people’s loneliness and disconnection,” Weiser said. “We’ve seen romance scams really rise during this time, as people are looking for companionship.”
Once someone loses money to a scammer, Weiser said it’s really hard to get that money back. That’s why his office is dedicated to educating Coloradans so we all know what to look out for when it comes to scams and fraud.
“What you need to know is that scammers will prey on your hopes, and they’ll prey on your fears, and what you can do is stay vigilant and don’t fall prey to their tactics,” Weiser said.
You can reports scams, fraud and price gouging to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. The consumer hotline number is 800-222-4444.
I also wanted to let you know that we are airing a scam special called Call for Action: The Top Scams of 2020. You can watch it on Christmas Day at 4 p.m. on KKTV 11 News. If you miss it, the special will re-air on KKTV 11 News at Noon on New Year’s Day.
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