Global alert against fake Covid vaccines

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Vaccination drive

Cyberabad Police asks people to dial 100 if they get calls offering Covid-19 vaccine registration and insisting for Aadhar, email and other credentials

Hyderabad: Criminals will put anything in a vial to get your money. And as the current trend goes, they are selling such vials as Covid-19 vaccines, with the truth being that these are fake and not tested, with the buyer running the risk of losing money and even his or her life.

Increased instances of online sale, advertising and promises of fake Covid-19 vaccines, especially with many people tempted to skip the line and buy their vaccine from whoever promises it, has now seen the Interpol and the United States Homeland Security Investigations joining forces to warn the public against purchasing such alleged Covid-19 vaccines online.

“With criminal groups producing, distributing and selling fake vaccines, the risks to the public are clear: these can include buying a product which does not protect against Covid-19 and poses a serious health hazard. Such products are not tested, regulated or safety-checked,” an Interpol notice issued this week says, stressing that legitimate vaccines were not for sale for anywhere in the world, but were being strictly administered and distributed by national healthcare regulators.

“From the very beginning of the pandemic, criminals have preyed on people’s fears in order to make fast cash. Fake vaccines are the latest in these scams, which is why Interpol and HSI are warning the public to be extra vigilant,” Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock tweeted. “Anyone ordering a vaccine online rather than obtaining it from their national provider will be buying a fake product. The networks behind these crimes have global ambitions,” he added.

According to the Interpol, an emerging trend has seen cybercriminals set up illicit websites claiming to be legitimate national or world organisations offering pre-orders for Covid-19 vaccines. These websites offer payments even in Bitcoins apart from other payment processing methods.

Using logos of pharmaceutical companies producing vaccines, fake websites are suspected of being used for phishing attacks, the agency said, adding that in addition to opening up their computer to cyber-attacks when attempting to purchase vaccines online, people also run the risk of having their identity stolen.

The Cyberabad Police had warned in December itself against such attempts, and said there were complaints of fraudsters calling people in the name of Covid-19 vaccine registration insisting for Aadhar, email and other credentials. If any such calls came, one could contact the police on Dial-100.

Exercise Caution
• Criminals are producing, selling fake Covid-19 vaccines: Interpol
• Ordering Covid-19 vaccine online will only get you fake products; Not worth the risk
• Only way to get legitimate vaccine is from national regulators; Buying online is dangerous business
• “As we warned last year, the next wave of Covid linked crime – fake vaccines – has begun,”- Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock

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