Ventura County officials on Tuesday are warning residents of scammers who dupe people into paying them with the promise of COVID-19 vaccines.
An elderly couple arrived at a vaccination site in the county on Tuesday, saying they “pre-paid for their vaccine,” officials announced on Facebook.
“They had provided financial information to a scammer prior to arriving to the site,” officials added.
The county didn’t provide information on who was behind the scam, or how they got in touch with the couple, but warned residents not to provide financial information to anyone by phone or email.
“Please be advised that vaccines are completely free,” the county said. “There is no cost to receive a vaccine.”
Unlike surrounding areas, Ventura County is still not vaccinating those 65 and older. The vaccine is currently available to residents aged 75 years and older, health care workers and those in long-term care facilities.
Those eligible can click here to book an appointment, but slots were all booked as of Tuesday.
Residents could sign up here to be notified when more are available in the county. Additional appointments are usually added at 7:30 a.m. every Monday.
To avoid falling victim to scams, residents are advised to sign up for free scam alerts from the Federal Trade Commission here, and always ask for identification or ask questions to verify the identity of callers.
Last month, the FBI warned there were several emerging fraud schemes related to COVID-19 vaccines, which remain scarce but in high demand.
Here are some potential indicators of fraud, according to the FBI:
- Offers for early access to a vaccine in exchange for a fee
- Requests to pay out of pocket to obtain the vaccine or be placed on a COVID-19 vaccine waiting list
- Offers to undergo medical testing when obtaining a vaccine
- Advertisements offering to sell doses of a vaccine in exchange for payment
- Unsolicited emails, calls or personal contact from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company, or COVID-19 vaccine center requesting information to determine eligibility to participate in clinical vaccine trials
- Claims of FDA approval for a vaccine that cannot be verified
- Calls or emails from anyone claiming the government require you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine
Those who believe they may have been the victim of a scam and have lost money can contact their local police department. For all other scam-related calls, residents can report them to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP or online at ftc.gov/complaint.