In the first federal action against fraud involving the coronavirus outbreak, the DOJ obtained a temporary restraining order against a website selling a bogus vaccine.
The DOJ said Sunday that operators of the website “coronavirusmedicalkit.com” were engaging in an alleged wire fraud scheme to profit from the confusion and fear surrounding Covid-19.
The website claimed to offer customers access to World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine kits in exchange for a shipping charge of $4.95. In fact, there are currently no legitimate Covid-19 vaccines and the WHO is not distributing any such vaccine.
Austin-based U.S. district judge Robert Pitman issued a temporary restraining order requiring that the registrar of the website to take immediate action to block public access while the investigation of the website and its operators continues.
The website domain was registered on March 4 through a registrar based in Arizona. The technical contact listed on the WHOIS record for the domain is a P.O. box in Panama.
According to an exhibit the DOJ filed, the website claimed that “you just need to add water, and the drugs and vaccines are ready to be administered.”
“We will use every resource at the government’s disposal to act quickly to shut down these most despicable of scammers, whether they are defrauding consumers, committing identity theft, or delivering malware,” a DOJ spokesperson said in Sunday’s statement.
On Friday, Attorney General William Barr asked the public to report suspected fraud related to Covid-19 and the coronavirus by reporting it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud.