WASHINGTON – As thousands of people get vaccinated every day the U.S. Justice Department is warning about a new scheme to dupe people out of their money.
According to the department, it has received numerous reports of fraudsters creating fake COVID-19 vaccine surveys for people to fill out with the promise of a prize or cash -- but the survey-takers aren’t rewarded. Instead, the schemers use the survey to steal someone’s personal information and in some cases money.
The DOJ said people will receive these false surveys via email and text message and can choose from various free prizes like an iPad Pro after completing the questionnaire. The messages say survey-takers only need to pay shipping and handling fees to receive their prize, according to investigators.
Victims then provide their credit card information and are charged for shipping and handling fees, but never receive the prize they chose, the DOJ said. People are also exposing their personal information to scammers, thereby increasing their probability of identity theft.
Unless from a known and verified source, consumers should never click on links in text messages or emails claiming to be a vaccine survey, the DOJ warns. These messages may seem like they’re coming from social media companies or government agencies but would likely not offer a prize, according to investigators.
The DOJ said if you receive a text message or email claiming to be a COVID-19 vaccine survey and it has a link or other contact information, please report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud by calling 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud.