Criminals Selling, Administering Fake Coronavirus Vaccines, Interpol Warns

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The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) issued a global alert Tuesday warning that organized crime networks were taking advantage of the rush to administer coronavirus vaccines.

While the pandemic has already “triggered unprecedented opportunistic and predatory criminal behaviour,” some individuals have advertised, sold, and administered fake coronavirus vaccines, INTERPOL said in a news release. The organization emphasized the need to ensure the safety of the vaccine supply chain as countries come closer to widely administering the vaccine.

“As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organizations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains,” INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said. “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.” (RELATED: Russian President Vladimir Putin Reportedly Orders Teachers, Doctors To Get Russian COVID-19 Vaccine)

“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,” Stock added.

Fake testing kits are also a concern. INTERPOL said that as testing becomes more important as travel resumes, the production of unauthorized testing kits will increase.

Individuals should be especially careful when shopping online for medical equipment, INTERPOL warned. The group’s Cybercrime Unit found 3,000 websites that were associated with online pharmacies suspected of selling illegal medical supplies and medicines, 1,700 of which contained cyber threats such as phishing or spamming malware.

INTERPOL’s warning comes as the United States comes closer to authorizing a coronavirus vaccine. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency approval for their vaccine November 20, and Moderna announced November 30 that they would become the second company to seek approval for their vaccine.

The United Kingdom authorized Pfizer’s vaccine Wednesday, and the government said that it is set for distribution across the country next week.