30 Dec BEWARE COVID-19 VACCINE SCAMS
Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD
is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook . For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“BEWARE COVID-19 VACCINE SCAMS”
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams℠ Acting Program
HAPPY NEW YEAR! It’s January 2021, finally. The start of something new and better than this past year, which was — I think it fair to say — one of the most difficult and challenging years of our lives, due largely to the coronavirus pandemic. But, fortunately, COVID-19 vaccines are now being distributed across the country. This will go a long way to limiting the negative impact of this devastating virus. That’s the good news! The bad news is that fraudsters are already moving full speed ahead with “COVID-19 Vaccine Scams!” Let’s face it. They have no shame. Our best defense against these sociopaths is to stay informed. Here is some info to help us steer clear of the COVID-19 vaccine scams.
COVID-19 VACCINE SCAMS
NEWS FLASH: Scammers planned ahead! — On December 3, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) alerted Americans who were anxious to receive the COVID-19 vaccination with this statement: “You will not be asked for money to enhance your ranking for vaccine eligibility.” On the same day the HHS alert was issued, WROC-TV of Rochester, NY, reported a robocall scam which “offered people a chance to avoid long lines and receive an early dose of the Pfizer vaccine for $79.99.” On December 11, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized emergency-use of the Pfizer vaccine. (1)
Be aware that scammers are using emails/texts to impersonate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FDA, or physicians. They may say they have new, important info for what you need to do after you receive your first shot. (2) DO NOT respond to these emails! Contact your doctor directly for any COVID-19 vaccine follow-up information.
Also, fraudsters may try to get you to download a supposed “vaccine schedule,” alleging that you can find a map of local vaccine inoculation centers which will put you in line to receive the vaccine. (2) DON’T DO IT! The document you download is likely infected with malware and you may then find yourself the target of a ransomware attack.
Mike Feuer, LA City Attorney, warns that scammers are using emails, texts, telemarketing calls, and even knocking on your door, in an attempt to sell you fake COVID-19 vaccines. Do not give these con artists any personal information, e.g., Social Security or Medicare numbers, or purchase any of their fake products. Report any attempts to sell fake COVID-19 vaccines to the FTC at https://www.ftc.gov/ or at https://www.lacityattorney.org/. (3)
IMPORTANT INFO ON COVID-19 VACCINES FROM STATE/FED OFFICIALS
- To begin with, the vaccine will be distributed in limited quantities throughout the nation, with strict protocols for who will be inoculated first, e.g., residents of nursing homes, front-line healthcare workers, etc.
- Don’t purchase any coronavirus vaccines or treatments from the internet or from an online pharmacy.
- Vaccine doses were bought with money from U.S. taxpayers, and will be provided to patients at no cost.
- Do not respond to any solicitations re: the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the December 3, 2020, HHS fraud advisory, “Fraudsters are using telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms and door-to-door visits to perpetrate COVID-19-related scams.” (1)
- Don’t provide any form of payment to suspicious callers, or give them any personal, financial or medical info. Scammers can use that info to commit medical identity theft and fraudulently bill federal healthcare programs.
- Contact the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/) and FDA’s vaccine web page (https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/covid-19-vaccines) for the latest, up-to-date information.
If you believe you have been the victim or the target of a scam, report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1. If you have questions about Medicare fraud / abuse or believe you have been the victim of Medicare fraud, please contact the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-855-613-7080. For more info regarding California SMP, go to www.cahealthadvocates.org. Contact the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office online at http://da.lacounty.gov// or phone (213) 974-3512.
SAVE THE DATE — SSSAP is Going Virtual in Collaboration with LAPL!
On Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 1:00 pm, SSSAP is going virtual in collaboration with LA Public Library (LAPL). Platt Library is hosting the first SSSAP Zoom Virtual Program. There will be a Q&A with Ann Stahl (retired Investigator for the Federal Trade Commission) and Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD (writer / actor with SSSAP)! Contact Megan Young, Adult Librarian to get the Zoom link email@example.com.
STOP SENIOR SCAMS℠ ACTING PROGRAM on YOUTUBE
Although the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in-person performances are on hold during this time of the coronavirus pandemic, we are committed to continuing our education program through our videos on Zoom.
- Our most recent video, called “Robocalls, Mail Fraud, and Merlin with the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program,” was released mid-October, 2020. Besides taking a look at scams that utilize robocalls and the U.S. Postal Service, this video also explores pet scams and features our friend “Merlin, the Cat!” Watch it here — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA3noym9JPo&t=2s
- For an overview of some of the most prevalent scams that target seniors in the United States, watch our video called “The Top Senior Scams with the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program.” —https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp097g7hTUg&t=13s
Please subscribe (free of charge) to the SSSAP YouTube Channel and you’ll be notified when new videos are released! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjFjb-WPPr8KAXq1dlu1EvA Together we can combat fraud!
Remember: You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!
Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD, is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. For more information re SSSAP, please contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.