A fraudulent website impersonating a biotechnology company to allegedly steal data has been seized by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.
“Freevaccinecovax.org” purported to be the domain name of a company that was developing a vaccine for COVID-19. However, the site was allegedly set up to collect the personal information of visitors and use it for nefarious purposes.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the seizure, the apparently fraudulent website “freevaccinecovax.org” was discovered by the Homeland Security Investigations Cyber Crimes Center (“C3”) and the Homeland Security Investigations Intellectual Property Rights Center (“IPRC”).
A domain analysis conducted by HSI revealed that the domain name was created on April 27, 2021, using an IP address located in Strasbourg, Germany. The registrant country was listed as Russia.
The creators of the fake site used the real trademarked logos for Pfizer, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the homepage to make the domain appear authentic.
The seizure of the domain name was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan Lenzner and Special Agent in Charge James Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations, Baltimore.
Mancuso said the HSI wants the public to understand that “all a bad guy needs to defraud thousands of Americans in search of COVID-19 information is the ability to create a website combined with malicious intent.”
The site is the latest in a string of fraudulent websites seeking to capitalize on the outbreak of coronavirus that have been seized by the Maryland US Attorney’s Office. The Office said the data collected by the site could potentially have been used to commit fraud, to deploy malware, or to carry out phishing attacks.
“This is the ninth fraudulent website seeking to illegally profit from the COVID-19 pandemic that we have seized,” said Lenzner.
“Members of the public should not provide personal information or click on links in unsolicited e-mails and should remember that the COVID-19 vaccine is not for sale.”
The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to people living in the United States.