More News from the Fraud Front

December 14, 2009
Michael Sheehan

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued an alert that scammers are using bogus e-mails referring to a non-existent CDC-sponsored vaccination program to gain access to a consumer's personal information.

Most e-mail fraud deals with finances, playing off the target’s fear of economic distress and often dealing with topics that have been headline copy for weeks. Bogus loan offers, lottery schemes, and work-at-home offers are also favorite scam themes. The latest “phishing” ploy, however, comes out of the healthcare arena, marrying the pandemic of swine flu with the well-publicized shortage of H1N1 vaccine.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued an alert that scammers are using bogus e-mails referring to a non-existent CDC-sponsored vaccination program to gain access to a consumer’s personal information. The e-mail advises the recipients that they need to create a personal H1N1 “vaccination profile” at on a sham site that mimics the CDC Web site. A scam victim who clicks on the site will not only give up his/her personal information, but will also have malicious code installed on his/her computer. The e-mails usually refer to a state H1N1vaccination program and claim that everyone over the age of 18 must have their profile posted on the CDC site. In its warning, the CDC made it clear that no H1N1 vaccination program requires registration on its site.

Before responding, says the CDC consumers should question how the agency got their e-mail address. Government agencies almost never use personal e-mails to communicate with the public. The CDC also advised that consumers should not click on any link in an e-mail unless they are absolutely sure that the e-mail is legitimate. In addition, consumers should never enter personal information online unless they know and trust the organization that is collecting the information and how it will be used.