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Covid-19 Vaccination Fraud on the Rise, Warns Personal Finance Site JustMoney

Fraudsters have started to target South Africans aged 60 years and older, who are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccination. It is vital to be aware of this email scam and to remain vigilant and not share your personal details with strangers, warns personal finance website JustMoney.co.za.

JustMoney.co.za marketing manager Shafeeka Anthony says, “We have been notified of two cases where people received emails that appeared to be from the website health.gov.za, advising that their vaccination had been scheduled. They were asked to click on a link to confirm the appointment and provide personal information.

“In the first case, the recipient had already received his first vaccination. He became suspicious, and, having checked the underlying email address, he realised it was not from the South African Department of Health.”

The recipient, a Cape Town-based professional, told JustMoney, “I was angry and worried as a lot of older people are more vulnerable to being taken for a ride. Most people do try to check emails, but they only see the visible address which looks legitimate.”

In the second case, the recipient clicked on the link, thinking the email was for his father whom he had registered for the vaccine. He was directed to a page where he typed in his father’s identity number. It registered a problem. Alarmed, the man deleted the email.

“I’m praying nothing happened, fortunately none of my accounts have been hacked into – but it’s scary,” he said.

In the United States, both the FBI and the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services are warning about fraudulent vaccination schemes. They say these are circulating through telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and even door-to-door calls. In some cases, people have been asked to pay a fee to get their vaccine, obtain early access to one, or get onto a priority waiting list.

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The Washington Post has reported an eBay listing offering customers authentic vaccination record cards for $10.99. Another promised the same but for $9.49. A third offered a “clear pouch” for the card for $8.99, but customers instead received a blank vaccination card (and no pouch).

These three listings were posted by the same eBay user, using an account registered to a man who works as a pharmacist in the Chicago area. All were illegal, federal regulators say. The account sold more than 100 blank vaccination cards, according to the Washington Post’s article.

Says Anthony, “Fraudsters are sophisticated in their methods and can be highly convincing. They have no qualms about taking advantage of anyone who might be vulnerable and, sadly, older people are often targets..

“Should you require accurate information pertaining to Covid-19 vaccinations or other medical questions, check out the official Covid-19 government site, contact your medical aid provider, or get in touch with your health professional. Be wary about sharing your personal information as medical identity theft is a reality.”

JustMoney.co.za makes it straightforward to educate yourself about money matters through its trustworthy articles, guides, budget calculators and products.

Read a JustMoney article on medical identity theft here and access more personal finance articles and information free on https://www.justmoney.co.za/.

Contacts: Southern African Fraud Prevention Service: https://www.safps.org.za/ or call  011 867 2234. South African Police Service https://www.saps.gov.za/.

Caption:  Personal finance website JustMoney.co.za warns people to be aware of fraud based on the Covid-19 vaccination rollout.

Sound bite: Marketing Manager of JustMoney, Shafeeka Anthony, warns that fraudsters have no qualms about taking advantage of anyone who may be vulnerable.

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