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NC attorney general: Scammers promising quick access to coronavirus vaccine

Posted December 16, 2020 8:38 p.m. EST

— With coronavirus vaccine being shipped to hospitals nationwide this week, scammers are taking advantage of people's anxiety over the pandemic, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said Wednesday.

Stein is trying to make people aware of various scams before they lose money or unwittingly turn over their Social Security number or bank account information.

"We all want to get this vaccine so that we can move forward with or lives. Just understand that there are greedy, bad people who are going to use this moment to steal your money or your personal information," he said.

In some cases, Stein said, scammers are using high-pressure tactics to get people to give them money for a dose of the vaccine that they don’t actually have. In other cases, they're sending online messages, offering people a chance to "skip the line" and get on a vaccine waiting list.

"Snake oil salesmen will sell you anything. Now that the vaccine is out, there are people out there saying, 'Buy the vaccine with me. Give me your money, and we’ll get it to you.' Obviously, that’s not how vaccine delivery is going to occur," he said. "They’ll say, 'If you want to sign up to get an early vaccine, click here,' and then that will unload malware onto a person’s phone or computer, which then subjects them to ransom."

Access to the vaccine is strictly controlled, and people do not have a way to get it to sell it publicly, Stein said. Also, there is no waiting list for the vaccine, at least not right now.

People looking for reliable information about coronavirus or the vaccine should ask their doctor or check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the state Department of Health and Human Services websites, he said.

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