COLORADO SPRINGS — As the State of Colorado works to distribute the coronavirus vaccine, state officials tell News5 they've started to receive reports of residents in our state being targeted by vaccine scams. News5 is watching out for you with what you need to know.
As people wait to get vaccinated, Colorado's attorney general says scammers and fraudsters are ramping up attacks and he's very concerned about the most vulnerable in our communities.
These scams may take many different forms. The caller may be impersonating a government official to collect personal information from you in order to "qualify" you to receive a vaccine or, through an email or text message, someone may try to sell you a vaccine or other treatment or cure, usually through a wire transfer or prepaid gift card.
Another tactic, you may receive a solicitation to purchase an appointment to receive an early vaccine. If you get any of these, make sure you notify the Colorado Attorney General's Office and Stop Fraud Colorado.
"We just got the penalties raised because this behavior is atrocious. Preying on people's fears about this virus is so wrong and if people are doing it we want to go after them. To be fair, in some cases these scammers are abroad, so we might not be able to. Any scammer we can go after we want to know what they are doing so we can stop it," said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.
Doctors warn there are also major health risks that can go along with these scams. It's significant enough that federal investigators are now keeping a list of fraudulent COVID-19 products, including fake cures, testing kits, and vaccines.
"The internet seems like a quick fix whether it's for e-commerce or social interaction, but it's not for vaccines. These are products that are highly regulated, highly controlled, they are limited because the people who need them need to get them first. Please wait and they will come but just don't make the mistake of buying online," said Professor of Anesthesiology at UC San Diego Dr. Tim Mackey.
The attorney general says his biggest concern is our state's seniors who are in need of the vaccine and most likely to be targeted by these scams. The state has set up large fines for anyone tied to one of these vaccine scams. Violations in Colorado are punishable by fines up to $50,000.
If you need more information about the coronavirus vaccine and your eligibility you should contact a trusted healthcare provider. You can also report any concerns about vaccine scams to stopfraudcolorado.gov.