Homeland Security Investigations, a division of the Department of Justice, is warning U.S. citizens about a scam targeting vulnerable consumers with promises of gifts and cash in exchange for participating in fraudulent post-vaccination surveys.
The fraudulent surveys are used to illegally capture the personal information from respondents and potentially steal money from them.
The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), Department of Justice (DoJ), in partnership with Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson, are investigating reports of the fraudulent vaccine surveys that promise consumers money or gifts upon completion of the survey.
“Fraudulent schemes like this emphasize the need to remain vigilant of those trying to profit from the most vulnerable in the midst of a pandemic. HSI has been at the forefront of the government’s investigative response to COVID-19 related crime since the onset of the pandemic and will remain a leader in the fight to prevent fraudulent activity under the guise of protecting the health and safety of our population,” said Steve Francis, IPR Center director.
Consumers say they receive the surveys via email and text messages and are told that, as a gift for filling out the survey, they can choose between an array of prizes, like an iPad Pro. At the conclusion of the survey, the respondents are asked to pay for shipping and handling and prompted to enter their credit card information. Victims are then charged the shipping and handling fees but never receive the promised prize. Additionally, they are also exposed to identity theft due to the exposure of their personally identifiable information.
Officials cautioned consumers to never click on links in text messages or emails from an unknown or unverified source to take a vaccine survey. Currently, no post-vaccine surveys are underway through Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson, officials said, and any email or text that suggests otherwise should be considered fraudulent and illegitimate.