Scammers have found a new way to take bilk the unwary

So be on your guard. The U.S. Department of Justice has recently issued an alert warning people of fake emails sent out asking recipients to take advantage of a post vaccination survey.

Naturally, as part of taking the survey, each participant will be asked a number of questions designed to trick the unsuspecting into parting with sensitive and personal information, which can be used to steal identities. In a bid to increase the response rate, these scammers promise a cash prize or other award for completing the survey and filling out the capture box at the end to claim their prize.

The FBI says "Consumers receive the surveys via email and text message, and are told that, as a gift for filling out the survey, they can choose from various free prizes, such as an iPad Pro."

It should go without saying, but in case there was any doubt, there is no prize. Anyone who answers the survey questions and fills out the capture boxes is simply handing their personal information over to the scammers. The messages claim consumers need to provide a credit card or bank account information to pay for shipping and handling to receive the gifts, but the gifts never arrive.

The Department of Justice release states "Phishing messages may look like they come from government agencies, financial intuitions, shipping companies, and social media companies, among many others. Carefully examine any message purporting to be from a company and do not click on a link in an unsolicited email or text message."

Scams that use links embedded in unsolicited text messages and emails in attempts to obtain personally identifiable information are commonly referred to as "phishing schemes."

"Beware of clicking on any links from a sender you don't know and pay attention to who the sender is and if you are unsure try and contact that sender through a means NOT in the email or the link," the FBI said.


The Better Business Bureau issued a warning about this vaccine scam

If you receive a text message or email claiming to be a COVID-19 vaccine survey and containing a link or other contact information, please report the communication to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form. Intellectual property crimes such as these also may be reported to federal law enforcement at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center).

Vaccination resistance is down to around 20 percent and falling, and an average of more than 3 million people a day are now being vaccinated. So, this is a vast market indeed and the scammers have shown no signs of stopping, or even slowing down. Unfortunately, we can expect to see more of these kinds of campaigns for months; probably until spring of next year when we should finally put the pandemic behind us.

At that point, there will be increasingly little to gain by continuing the campaign, and it's a safe bet that the scammers will move onto something with a larger victim pool. Until that happens though, if you know anyone who isn't especially tech savvy and is likely to be taken in by this sort of thing, be sure they're aware of the risks.


My perspective

If we all work together, we can minimize the impact of this latest campaign and hopefully save a few of our friends and loved ones from getting themselves into trouble.


~ Col. Kurtz may mutter - "The horror! The horror!" ~


By Denis Wilson

Cybersecurity Expert, Small Business Technology Consultant, Managed Services Provider, Managed IT Support

Thanks for reading this short post. For more tips on thriving with small business technology, check out the other blog posts at DWPIA Blogs. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter

I am also a published author and speaker on cloud computing, work@home, and cybersecurity. I work extensively with business and professional associations to provide small business technology education programs.


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