COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is issuing this urgent reminder to be aware of bogus COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, test kits, and clinical trial offers.   

As Michiganders are anxiously anticipating approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, scammers are poised to capitalize on a soon- to-be released vaccine. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued warnings to beware of anyone offering COVID-19 vaccines right now because a vaccine has yet to be approved for distribution by the FDA.   

Fake Vaccines 

Con artists are counting on consumers’ fears and emotions to profit from the challenge of this pandemic by selling unproven products that make false claims to cure, treat, or prevent COVID-19.  These fraudulent products have not been evaluated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness and might actually be dangerous to you and your family. The cost for these fraudulent products can be enormous and, at the very least, you may be out a significant amount of money.   

Fraudulent coronavirus treatments come in a variety of forms, including pills, dietary supplements, herbal teas, essential oils, and medical devices. Fraudulent coronavirus test kits are also being offered for sale online. The FDA is monitoring complaints of fake coronavirus treatments and tests.  They offer the following tips: 

  • Be suspicious of products that claim to treat a wide variety of diseases. 

  • Personal testimonials are no substitute for scientific evidence. 

  • Few diseases or conditions can be treated quickly; be suspicious of any product or treatment claiming to be a “quick fix.” 

  • “Miracle cures,” which claim scientific breakthroughs or contain secret ingredients, are likely a hoax. 

  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.  

  • Do NOT purchase an alleged vaccine or treatment over the internet or from an online pharmacy.   

  • Always consult a licensed medical professional to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment.   

  • Do not respond to text messages, emails, or calls about vaccines or treatments.  

  • Beware of ads on social media for vaccines, treatments, and/or clinical trials.   

The sale of fraudulent COVID-19 products is a threat to public health. Remember, there currently is no FDA-approved vaccine to cure, treat, or prevent COVID-19.   

Offers to participate in clinical trials.  

You may receive a text message, email, or see a post on social media on how you could qualify for a clinical trial and make money while participating. Unsolicited offers to participate in a clinical trial are not legitimate and should be ignored. Many times advertisements offer thousands of dollars for your participation but there is a catch: they ask for money or personal information up front. The text or email may also include a link asking you to download an informational pamphlet or waiver. Clicking the link could expose your electronic device to malware. DON’T DO IT! 

The National Institute of Health (NIH) provides a database of clinical studies conducted around the world where you can view studies related to COVID-19.  NIH also suggests talking to your health care provider before participating in any study.   

Questions about COVID-19  

The FDA suggests if you have symptoms of COVID-19, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines and speak to your health care provider.  Your provider will advise you about whether you should get tested and the process for being tested in your area.  

If you have a question about a treatment, test, or medication found online, contact your pharmacist or the FDA’s Division of Drug Information (DDI) at 855-543-3784.  

To report a scam, file a complaint or get additional information, contact the Michigan Department of Attorney General: 

Consumer Protection  
P.O. Box 30213 
Lansing, MI 48909 
517-335-7599 
Fax: 517-241-3771 
Toll free: 877-765-8388 
Online complaint form 

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