While it always raises alarm bells when the government is taking down websites, the Justice Department’s announced enforcement action against a website claiming to sell “vaccine kits” for COVID-19 appears legit. At issue was some scammer who put up a website fraudulently claiming that the World Health Organization was “giving away vaccine kits” and you just had to give this just registered website $4.95 for “shipping” and you’d get one of these kits. The website, laughably, claimed:
You just need to add water, and the drugs and vaccines are ready to be administered. There are two parts to the kit: one holds pellets containing the chemical machinery that synthesises [sic] the end product, and the other holds pellets containing instructions that tell the drug which compound to create. Mix two parts together in a chosen combination, add water, and the treatment is ready.
The DOJ complaint suggests this was all just a scam to get credit cards and purchaser info for further identity scams with no actual product ever being sent.
Again, while taking down websites always raises some 1st Amendment concerns, those don’t seem to apply here. This was just blatant fraud, first claiming to be associated with the WHO, and second selling some snake oil vaccine or treatment that doesn’t exist… oh, and on top of that, never actually having any product to sell, and likely using the credit card info for further scams. So, unlike some other law enforcement claims of prosecuting “false information” about COVID-19 and the response, this is a legitimate law enforcement action to stop outright fraud.
Of course, given how many lies the President has been spewing about the COVID-19 response, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him point people to similar websites via a tweet before this week is over. I mean, he’s already pushing people to try snake oil treatments that are literally killing people.