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Scam alert: Fake Vaccine Appointments Come with Lasting Side Effects

High Vaccine Demand and Short Supply Create Space for Scammers
Christian Emmer
High Vaccine Demand and Short Supply Create Space for Scammers

Lee County Sheriff says: If you're offered an opportunity to receive the vaccine and are asked to pay out of pocket, you are being scammed

People in Florida jockeying for COVID-19 vaccination appointments are being warned by county and state officials that scammers have wormed their way in, seeking to take their money and personal information.

In short, if you’re being asked to pay for an appointment, it’s a scam.

Florida State Attorney General Ashley Moody warned that scammers hiding behind seemingly legitimate booking websites may call, text or email, offering a swifter vaccine appointment that comes at personal cost.

The office confirms that any offer requiring payment for the vaccine or hastened waitlist status is a scam.

“The Coronavirus vaccine is free,” Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno admonishes. “Under no circumstances should you be asked to send money, gift cards, etc., in exchange for vaccination.”

Still, the scams continue to circulate among Florida residents desperate to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Sadly, scammers are increasing their efforts, leaving innocent victims without money and without the vaccine. If you are offered an opportunity to receive the vaccine and (are) asked to pay out of pocket, you are being scammed,” Marceno’s office stated.

The Florida State Attorney General’s office warns that scammers who claim to be county health officials or vaccination-site representatives might ask for personal information such as a Social Security, Medicare or credit card/banking numbers.

One scam involves Medicare fraudsters offering in-home vaccines for seniors, requiring Medicare card information to schedule the appointment. The attorney general’s office cautions that these card numbers contain personal data that could lead to Medicare fraud.

Sharing vaccination cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention online is ill advised, Moody’s office emphasizes. Vaccination cards include sensitive data that can lead to identity fraud, be used to hack online accounts or to create fake vaccine documentation.

Both Moody and Marceno ask that suspected scams related to the COVID-19 vaccine be reported to the Florida Attorney General by calling 866-966-7226 or visiting MyFloridaLegal.com.