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Video: Vaccine scam artists target Minnesotans

Feb 03, 2021 06:12AM ● By Editor

Watch the KARE 11 Report here

Photo:  KARE 11 News

By John Croman of KARE 11 News - February 2, 2021

There's simply not enough vaccine to go around right now. 

Scam artists know it too. They're ready to pounce on your anxiety, and either rip you off in an old-fashioned con game, or even worse, steal your identity.

The Minnesota Department of Health issued a new warning today about vaccine scams that are starting to pop up across the state. People have been getting calls and texts from fraudsters offering to sell them doses of vaccine and ship them directly to the consumer, which is a clear sign of fraud.

"If someone is trying to sell you a vaccine, it's a scam. The vaccine is free for everyone, through appropriate vaccination clinics," MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann told reporters Tuesday.

"If someone offers to ship it to you, that's a scam. You will need to get the vaccine from a medical professional."

Some of the criminal operators are on "phishing" expeditions, asking for bank account and credit card numbers and Social Security numbers as part of the transaction, according to Ehresmann.

Again, that's a clear sign that it's not a legitimate health care operation making the offer.

"If they ask for your credit card, bank account or social security number that's a scam," Ehresmann explained. "Public health and health care providers will not call you and ask you for this information."

She said her own father in Florida told her he was getting his Social Security number and other information ready before he applied for a vaccination appointment in that state.

"And I said, 'Nom Dad, no! They will never, never ask you for that. And if they do, you know, can’t give it.' That’s the key."

Ehresmann said some of the fraud attempts are offers to move consumers to the front of the line for vaccinations. In Minnesota, the state mass vaccination appointments are being set via a lottery. Private health providers are handling the 75-plus patients first before booking appointments in the 65 to 70 age range.

"If someone offers to sell you a better place in the vaccination line, it's a scam," Ehresmann remarked.

She said Minnesota has 918,000 people in the 65-plus age group. And, while the state's supply of vaccines is on the upswing, it's nowhere near as high as the demand. Ehresmann estimated it will take at least 16 weeks to get shots to all the people in that 65-plus age bracket.

In the meantime, MDH is asking for patience.

"There will be opportunities for everyone who wants a vaccine to get it, but it will take time."

Ehresmann said the apparent shortage of vaccines has in many ways overshadowed the overall positive development that highly effective vaccines were developed in a relatively short time.

No matter what age you are, it's still a good idea to watch out for vaccination offers that seem too good to be true.

"Yes, you want to be on a list with your provider. You want to make sure you’ve made it known you’re interested in being vaccinated, but that should never involve giving any of that private information out."

To see the original story and read related reporting, follow this link to the KARE 11 News website.

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