Scam Artists See Growing Opportunity In Expanding COVID Vaccination Efforts

CBS4's Nichelle Medina reports on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Video Transcript

- Now to a CBS4 News Consumer Alert. Distribution of the coronavirus vaccine is growing. But scam artists see a growing opportunity. CBS4's Nichelle Medina reports on how to protect yourself from becoming the next victim.

NICHELLE MEDINA: When the COVID vaccine came out, Janice Gach gave her contact info to the Florida Health Department, hoping to get an appointment for the shot.

[TELEPHONE RINGS]

Later she received a call. But something didn't seem right when the caller asked her to spell her name.

JANICE GACH: I said, you should have my name, haven't you? I mean, you're getting in touch with me for the vaccine.

NICHELLE MEDINA: Gach was suspicious and hung up for good reason. Officials have put out numerous scam warnings. Criminals often call or email seniors offering fake vaccine appointments for money.

JANICE GACH: When someone calls you on the phone, just automatically be very suspicious. And don't give out any information.

NICHELLE MEDINA: The vaccine is free. You can't pay for it or for a place on a waiting list. But an investigation from Digital Citizens Alliance spotted social media ads offering to sell shots. It appears the scammers just take the money and never deliver.

Last month the Department of Justice charged three men in Baltimore for setting up a fake website saying, "You may be able to buy a COVID-19 vaccine ahead of time," offering them at $30 apiece. Even those who have received the shot legitimately need to look out for another possible scam. The Better Business Bureau says people posting their vaccination cards online are putting themselves at risk.

- The problem is those vaccine cards have a lot of private information on it. It has your birthdate on it. It can sometimes have your home address on it, clearly the full spelling of your name. Well, that's a scammer's paradise.

NICHELLE MEDINA: Experts say it's safer to just share a picture of the vaccination sticker instead. Nichelle Medina, CBS News San Diego.