Authorities seize domain name of bogus virus vaccine website

Northeast

Sterling Heights firefighter Ashley Brouwer, who started her job in March 2021, prepares a syringe of Moderna vaccine at a distribution location in Sterling Heights, Mich., Wednesday, April 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

BALTIMORE (AP) — Federal authorities in Maryland have seized the domain name of a website accused of fraudulently offering to sell COVID-19 vaccines.

The U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Maryland says “COVIDReliefSociety.org” is the 10th virus fraud-related domain name that it has seized since the pandemic began.

In a news release on Thursday, prosecutors say the website promised same-day delivery of COVID-19 vaccines anywhere in the world but actually collected visitors’ personal information to launch phishing attacks and deploy malware.

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The site now bears a message that the federal government has seized it.

“In a time when we are urging people to get vaccinated for COVID-19, it is reprehensible that fraudsters are trying to prey on unsuspecting residents and their families,” acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner said in a statement.

Investigators believe the site’s domain name was created in December. It included an image of what appeared to be a screen capture of vaccine developer Moderna’s website and trademarked logo, according to prosecutors.

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