Scammers set up fake websites posing as COVID-19 treatments to trick people into sharing personal information, US officials warn

  • US Justice Department officials took down two scam websites posing as pharmaceutical companies making COVID-19 treatments, officials said Friday.
  • The sites purported to be created by the healthcare companies Moderna and Regeneron in order to trick people into handing over their personal information.
  • COVID-19-related fraud has proliferated in the past year, with Americans losing over $211 million to scams that invoke the virus.
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Scammers set up fake websites posing as pharmaceutical companies making COVID-19 treatments in order to defraud people, US Department of Justice officials said Friday.

The DOJ seized and shut down two websites that purported to belong to Moderna, a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer, and Regeneron, which sells a treatment for the virus, according to the US Attorney for the District of Maryland.

By posing as legitimate healthcare companies, the sites aimed to trick people into handing over personal information that could have been used for identity fraud or leveraged for other phishing scams. The two sites — "mordernatx.com" and "regeneronmedicals.com" — now redirect to a DOJ message stating the web domains have been seized by law enforcement.

The scams come amid a surge in online fraud related to COVID-19. The World Health Organization warned in the early months of the virus' onset that scammers were capitalizing on people's fear and uncertainty about COVID-19 in order to swindle them.

Over the summer, Microsoft announced that it obtained a court's permission to seize and shut down a raft of scam websites claiming to be affiliated with the company and pushing fake alerts about the pandemic.

Vaccines are now being widely distributed in the US and across the globe. DOJ officials warned that people seeking out information about vaccines online should double-check the authenticity of the sites they visit and avoid entering any personal information.

"I urge citizens to remain vigilant. Don't provide personal information or click on websites or links contained in unsolicited e-mails," US Attorney Robert Hur said in a statement. "Don't become a victim."

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