PARIS (REUTERS, AFP) - The Interpol global police coordination agency warned on Wednesday (Dec 2) that organised criminal networks could be targeting Covid-19 vaccines, and could look to sell fake shots or steal supplies.
Distribution of three new coronavirus vaccines is set to begin soon and many people will be desperate to protect themselves as quickly as possible, offering ready targets for criminals.
Interpol, which is headquartered in France, said it had issued a global alert to law enforcement across its 194 member countries, warning them to prepare for organised crime networks targeting Covid-19 vaccines, both physically and online.
"As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organisations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains. Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives," said Interpol secretary-general Juergen Stock.
The agency had already in July warned about the proliferation of fake Covid-19 testing kits and other medical products as countries worldwide rushed to secure supplies during the pandemic.
Its cybercrime unit recently investigated some 3,000 websites linked to online pharmacies selling illicit drugs and other medical products, of which 1,700 also used phishing techniques to try to trick people into handing over personal data, or other malicious software.
"It is important to be vigilant, be skeptical and be safe, as offers which appear too good to be true usually are," the agency said.