New COVID-19 “Booster” scams are on the rise.
With more older people receiving booster shots, scammers are seizing the opportunity to defraud health care companies by sending out fake vaccine surveys offering cash prizes in return for completing the survey.
The surveys, which are sent by email or text, appear at first glance to be from known vaccine drug companies, such as Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson. But, in reality, the fake surveys are part of a multi-layered scheme designed to steal victims’ information and help criminals defraud the system.
The scam works like this: The victim receives an email or text asking them to take a vaccine survey in return for a cash prize. The prize is often described as a $50 gift card, or as having “a minimum value of $90.”
Inside the email is a graphic promising an “exclusive offer” with a value of up to $100. The graphic includes a countdown clock allowing the victim just a few minutes to start the survey. (This is intended to make the recipient rush to claim the offer and not think too hard about what is being asked.)
The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice have warned that the fake surveys will ask the victim for a credit card and/or bank information to claim their “free prize.” The scammers may claim the credit card number is needed for a “small shipping…