LYON, FRANCE – Interpol on Wednesday warned authorities around the world of the threat from organized crime groups in upcoming COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, including fake vaccines and the theft of supplies.
The distribution of three new coronavirus vaccines is expected to begin soon, and many people will desperately need to protect themselves as quickly as possible, offering ready targets for criminals.
“As governments prepare to deploy vaccines, criminal organizations plan to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains,” Juergen Stock, head of the Lyon, France-based global police agency, said in a statement.
“Criminal networks will also target unsuspecting members of the public through bogus websites and fake medicine, which could pose a significant risk to their health and even their lives,” he said.
The agency had previously warned in July of the proliferation of fake COVID-19 test kits and other medical products as countries around the world rushed to secure supplies during the pandemic.
Its cybercrime unit recently investigated some 3,000 websites related to online pharmacies selling illicit drugs and other medical products, 1,700 of which also used phishing techniques to try to trick people into transmitting personal data or other malware.
“It is important to be vigilant, skeptical and cautious, as usually are offers that sound too good to be true,” the agency said.