Florida Attorney General Warns Residents Of COVID-19 Vaccine Scams
Attorney General Ashley Moody's warnings come as the Legislature considers a bill that would make vaccine scams a third-degree felony.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning residents to be on the lookout for COVID-19 vaccination scams.
“One of the lessons we are learning from the current health crisis is that scammers are willing to exploit any emergency to swindle consumers. Throughout this crisis, we have been working hard to stop scammers and prevent consumer fraud,” Moody said.
She offers this clues:
- Vaccines are free, so if a website asks you for money for an appointment it is a scam.
- If you see something suspicious, check with your county health department for local vaccine distribution guidelines before proceeding.
- Look for “https” or a padlock icon in the website name to make sure you are on a secure website.
- Be wary of any website where popup ads offer a vaccine appointment.
Moody's warnings come as the Legislature considers a bill that would make vaccine scams a third-degree felony.
"Recently the federal, state, and local officials have warned Florida consumers to be careful of offers to get special access to the COVID-19 vaccine in exchange for money," says state Rep. Adrian Zika, R-Land O' Lakes, the bill's sponsor. "They often use ... authentic-looking but fake websites to lure unsuspecting consumers into paying for vaccines or appointments that never materialize."
Scammers created fake internet pages designed to look like the Pasco and Pinellas county Health Department's web pages and charged money for fake vaccination appointments. That's among the 14,000 reports of COVID-related fraud received by the Department of Legal Affairs Consumer and Protection Division.
Suspected scams should be reported to the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-866-9NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226) or by going to MyFloridaLegal.com.
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