The worrying trend of scam emails promising people the opportunity to jump the queue is becoming a reality for many. While most Australians over the age of 18 will have the chance to be vaccinated by the end of October, these emails are becoming more prevalent. In an interview with Body and Soul, technology lawyer Nicole Murdoch said it’s important to be patient. “Some people are desperate to jump the queue for vaccines and there are reports from abroad of scammers selling bogus COVID vaccines which are nothing more than saline solutions,” she told the publication.
“Scammers will try and prey on people by offering cheap vaccines, that are not even vaccines, or offering people the chance to ‘jump’ the queue or even opt for a specific vaccine.”
Murdoch added that some scammers might even take advantage of vaccine preference, suggesting: “The scammer’s approach is to say, ‘if you prefer to get the Pfizer vaccine rather than the AstraZeneca vaccine, then pay us $150 and you can jump the queue.”
Murdoch warns that any email containing such information is likely a scam, but points out that there are some tell-tale signs to look out for to make such an informed decision. The emails can look incredibly legitimate, and may even use your personal name and phone number, but it’s important to note that this information is largely widely available online. An example from the UK reportedly sent a fake text to appear like it was from the National Health Scheme, with a click-through to an NHS-themed portal that asked for personal details.
In Australia, both the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines will be free to all, so should an email or text offer a vaccine, a queue-jump, or anything else for a price, then it’s a scam. Currently, the order of eligibility will be based on age groups and pre-existing conditions, with priority given to those in high-risk professions like health and aged care.