Sarasota County Sheriffs Office has received a few questions recently regarding COVID-19 vaccination scams. Here are a few helpful hints to look for if you believe you may be a victim of fraud.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are warning the public about several emerging fraud schemes related to COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Avoid online offers for coronavirus cures or faster access to vaccines. They aren’t legitimate.
  • Be wary of emails, calls and social media posts advertising “free” or government-ordered COVID-19 tests. Check the FDA website for a list of approved tests and testing companies.
  • Don’t click on links or download files from unexpected emails, even if the email address looks like a company or person you recognize. Ditto for text messages and unfamiliar websites.
  • Don’t share personal information such as Social Security, Medicare and credit card numbers in response to an unsolicited call, text or email.
  • Be skeptical of fundraising calls or emails for COVID-19 victims or virus research, especially if they pressure you to act fast and request payment by prepaid debit cards or gift cards.
  • Ignore phone calls or emails from strangers urging you to invest in a hot new stock from a company working on coronavirus-related products or services.
You should contact the Office of the Inspector General, FBI or Medicare Hotline however, if the crime happens here in Sarasota County (ie. you are met by someone in person offering vaccines for payment), you should absolutely notify local law enforcement.
The State of Florida Department of Health does not charge for vaccine appointments. If you are asked to pay a fee for an appointment or early access, please report the fraudulent activity.