COVID-19 Vaccines: Beware Of Scammers, INTERPOL Warns Nigeria, Others

Nigeria and other countries have been warned to stay vigilant over a potential targeting of COVID-19 vaccines by international criminal networks and scam artists.

The warning was handed down by the International Police (INTERPOL) on Thursday in Lyon.

INTERPOL noted that the burning desire of many countries to have their citizens vaccinated against coronavirus may leave them open to the wily schemes of organized crime networks. The warning was disclosed in an official statement signed by Jurgen Stock, Interpol Secretary-General. Specifically, he urged countries to prepare for criminals targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online.

Consequently, he has called for increased law enforcement and vigilance across its 194 member countries.

“As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organizations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains. Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures; which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives.

“It is essential that law enforcement is as prepared as possible for what will be an onslaught of all types of criminal activity linked to the COVID-19 vaccine, which is why INTERPOL has issued this global warning,’’ he added.

Further, INTERPOL has advised the public to take special care when going online to search for medical equipment or medicines.

“In addition to the dangers of ordering potentially life-threatening products; an analysis by the INTERPOL’s Cybercrime Unit revealed that of 3,000 websites associated with online pharmacies; suspected of selling illicit medicines and medical devices, around 1,700 contained cyber threats, especially phishing and spamming malware,’’ it said.

On Wednesday, the UK became the first country in the world to authorise the use of Pfizer-BioNTech for emergency purposes; thus, paving way for the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines from next week.

More than 100,000 people in Russia have already been inoculated against the coronavirus, said Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko; while presenting the Sputnik Vaccine to the United Nations over a video link.

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