After the recent rollout of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine in the U.K., officials received numerous reports that cybercriminal are now targeting the elderly in a new COVID-19 phone scam.
According to The Sun, pensioner victims reported to receive automated voice call advising them that they have been selected to receive the Covid-19 jab. Then they were advised to arrange a booking by pressing a number, which would give them access to the old age pensioners’ (OAPs) accounts.
(Photo : Dan Charity – Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 08: General manager of Covid Recovery, Becky Board, administers the first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in London to patient George Dyer, 90, at Croydon University Hospital, at the start of the largest ever immunisation programme in the UK’s history on December 8, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. More than 50 hospitals across England were designated as covid-19 vaccine hubs, the first stage of what will be a lengthy vaccination campaign. NHS staff, over-80s, and care home residents will be among the first to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which recently received emergency approval from the country’s health authorities.
New Covid-19 vaccine phone scam targets pensioners
Officials of Wirral, Merseyside warned people about the new phone scam that charged the OAPs’ phone company and swoop money from their accounts.
“We have been made aware of an alleged scam targeting elderly people in the New Ferry area, involving an automated phone message offering people a Covid vaccine,” Wirral council wrote in a Facebook post.
The scam targeted unsuspecting victims with 0151 645 numbers who received calls from con artists using the number 075374 00307. The council advised the public to warn the elderly who are vulnerable to being fraud as well as to coronavirus. The council also urged victims to report any information about the scam to Action Fraud through its website or by calling 0300 123 2040.
As the UK government prioritizes the older residents to receive the vaccine, this made them the prime target of this scam. They received voice prompts and they are asked to press a number. However, pressing the number will let the scammers charge the victim’s phone company and take their money from their accounts.
According to ProPrivacy digital privacy expert Ray Walsh, they have been receiving reports of phone call scams that target the elderly who have been waiting for the coronavirus vaccine, which is “extremely concerning.”
This is not the first time a vaccine scam emerged. The National Crime Agency (NCA) already warned the public to about increasing cases of various vaccine-related frauds like fake coronavirus testing kits and PPE as well as different online phishing scams. “Out of all the scams we see targeting the elderly and vulnerable, this is by far one of the cruelest,” Walsh told The Sun.
(Photo : Jonny Weeks/The Guardian – Pool/Getty Images)
COVENTRY, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 9: Margaret Keenan, 90, the first patient in the United Kingdom to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine, speaks with Healthcare assistant Lorraine Hill as she prepares to leave University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire, the day after receiving the first of two doses of the vaccine, on December 9, 2020 in Coventry, United Kingdom. The UK is the first country in the world to start vaccinating people with the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.
These people are at risk and they are waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine, Walsh reminded them that they will not be receiving phone “calls from the NHS asking them to press a number” to make an appointment to receive the vaccine.
UK: First to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine
After regulators approved the Covid-19 vaccine Pfizer-Biontech on December 2, the UK immediately rolled it out on December 8. It became the first country to begin administering a vaccine since coronavirus broke out on later December in 2019.
Ninety-year-old Margaret Keenan was the first British to receive jab, which she regarded as the “best early birthday present” as she will celebrate her birthday next week, according to BBC.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock dubbed the vaccination roll out the “V-day” as it was a celebration of “scientific endeavour and human ingenuity” as well as the hard work of thousands of people.
It is expected that the NHS will administer up to four million vaccine doses until the end of 2020. “Today marks the start of the fightback against our common enemy, the coronavirus,” Hancock noted.
Meanwhile, New York Times reported that around 2.9 million Pfizer-Biontech Covid-19 vaccine doses will be initially shipped in the United States by next week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer’s vaccine for emergency use on December 11.