BBB warns Connecticut residents of text, email COVID-19 study scams


(WTNH) — We have all come across something that appears “too good to be true.” And usually, our gut is right. So, the Better Business Bureau has offered a scam alert for COVID-19 clinical study scams promising big bucks.  

“So, just when we thought we could have seen the end of COVID-19 scams, there is always some sort of new scam on the rise,” Luke Frey said. Frey is the Associate Director of Communications for the Better Business Bureau serving Connecticut.

Here’s how the latest scam works: You receive an unsolicited message via text, or e-mail. It goes on to say that you could qualify for a COVID-19 study. A version received by one BBB staff promised compensation of more than $1,200. It then asks you to click on a link.

“The dangerous part of these scams is what you hand over in terms of personal information,” Frey said. If you click on that link, he adds, it may ask for a small fee, say $20, in order to get a vaccine or participate on a trial.

“However, whatever ends up  happening, you’re charged a lot more than $20, and it’s not an actual clinical study,” Frey said.

So, if you get a text asking you to join a clinical trial, what should you do?

There a a couple of things. Frey said if you’re tech savvy, check the url. If the site has only been active for a day or two, you know it’s a scam. The other tip is to not click on that link.

‘Take a step back, don’t click on that link. Even clicking on it could compromise your phone, contacts, passwords and other things as well.”

Lets say the allure of being paid is too much to resist. So now, you enter a web page. Frey says it’ll actually look like a real clinical trial. He says the things you will be asked for- like your name, your birthdate, your address and e-mail address.

A real clinical trial is going to do this Frey said, but adds, “They’re not gonna ask you financial information.”

Earlier this week, Pfizer released what appears to be the first compelling evidence that a vaccine could prevent COVID-19. Frey said a scam like this is targeting people who are already paying the consequences of the virus. .

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