DOJ Correctly Takes Down Fraudulent COVID-19 Website Selling Bogus 'Vaccine Kits'

from the now-look-at-the-snake-oil-coming-from-the-white-house dept

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.

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Comments on “DOJ Correctly Takes Down Fraudulent COVID-19 Website Selling Bogus 'Vaccine Kits'”

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"The website had protected speech. And this is a prior restraint! The test is not probable cause if any one word is protected speech!"

Trying to wedge some anti-230 rhetoric into the debate again, Baghdad Bob?

I’m not too surprised to see the copyright maximalist/anti-google/anti-230 fanatic try to use a pandemic as a grindstone for his rhetoric. I wish I was.

Let’s just say that an obvious con where a snake oil salesman tries to peddle a dysfunctional virus test is not "free speech". That’s covered under actual fraud law.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s utter nonsense, everyone knows that CORVID-19 is a side-effect from the war between the leprechaun mafia and the unicorn cartels, a weapon that got out of control and is now affecting the human population, and the people trying to spin treatments of it as some sort of conspiracy(like yourself) are in fact agents from the two sides trying to muddy the waters.

Now, this may sound utterly ridiculous, but as it is just as reasonable as ‘the swabs are actually giving people CORVID-19’ I feel it deserves just as much serious consideration and contemplation, which is to say, none at all.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"What IF the test swabs were actually giving people the Coronavirus?"

SARS-CoV-2 survives for hours on a porous surface. Which either means those test swabs came out of the pack soaked in pungent nutrient solution (which you might notice) or had someone infected coughing on them right before sealing them and driving them out.

I’ll cave on the idea that there is someone out there fscked up enough to do this, but the logistics don’t match up with what is physically possible.

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Bruce C. says:

Re: Re:

You seem to be under the illusion that anywhere is safe. Unless they turn out a vaccine in much less time than anticipated, you will probably catch this disease within the next 12 months. You can’t self-isolate for 18 months straight, and herd immunity only happens after 70% or so are infected.

The real question is whether it’s going to come back, year after year, like the flu. And whether it will still continue to kill off 10-15% of the elderly that it hits.

USA is poised to pass Italy on Thursday and China on Friday for most cases in the world. I expect our fearless leader to step up his claims that it was a plot by the Chinese soon after. Especially if the US death count also surpasses Italy and China.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"All that will prove is that China lied about their numbers."

Maybe. China’s compulsion for face-saving tends to apply only for crap where the facts are either not likely to be discovered or unlikely to be proven.

Having been caught in a "dun goofed" their best bet right now is to pretend they were always on the case, the ones responsible for the initial coverup have been punished, they’re at the forefront of fighting the disease, doing twice the work anyone else is doing, yadda yadda…

And the easiest way to do that is, in fact, to do their damndest best.

You’d normally assume the threat of percentages of the population dying would be enough of a motivator for anyone to go the extra mile, but where China is concerned I fear the risk of getting egg on their face a second time is considered a worse risk…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

USA is poised to pass Italy on Thursday and China on Friday for most cases in the world.

It’ll pass reported cases. Given the disease originated in Wuhan, China and spread due to the Chinese government refusing to admit there was a serious problem for months; I highly doubt it will pass the actual number of cases in China.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I am sure people are being allowed to come and go to and from the city especially to leave the city so they become someone else’s problem because Cuomo can’t get enough ventilators to the hospitals in NYC. Ventilators don’t get enough oxegen to the bloodstream anyway. Its Heart/Lung machines that are needed for critical cases. Not one mention of that in US cases at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Its Heart/Lung machines that are needed for critical cases.

Those machines will keep someone alive long enough to do a heart transplant, but not for the days required to recover Covid 19. That is they are short term measure, maybe a few hours, while a ventilator, with extra oxygen is needed for days of support.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

No, not true. Heart/Lung machines have been saving lives by getting oxygen directly into bloodstreams of hundreds of patients so that the immune system and medicine can reduce the damage from reduced oxygen being taken in by lungs alone, the immune system did not ravage lung tissue as it had with reduced oxygen levels being only supported by respirator assisted breathing according to several reports I read. However setting up the Heart/Lung machines take a great amount of critical expertise and time running them.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"I am sure people are being allowed to come and go to and from the city especially to leave the city so they become someone else’s problem…"

When the average city isn’t self-sufficient few other options exist. I’m sure Cuomo knows full well if he tries to quarantine NYC it’ll be a matter of hours before there’s a citywide riot on his hands on top of COVID.

I cordially invite you to think of what happens once the first US civilians die trying to run a blockade by the US national guard.

There are no good options on the table when a pandemic hits and people should just stop assuming there are. And it’s all our own fault. We’re all willing to insure our houses and hardware but couldn’t be bothered to insist our governments spent money preparing for the next pandemic.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"They need to stop the people coming out of NYC and flooding into otherwise safe areas. WTF??"

Not that easy. Cities aren’t self-sufficient so if you clamp down on any given city what you end up with is food riots and starvation.

With a significant proportion of city population working in the city but living in the suburbs you’ve got a hard choice – lock them into the city and arrange bed cots for millions of people, or prevent them from coming to work…at which point, how will they survive in the US, without the money to pay their bills?

It’s also not easy to prevent tourists from going home. Which naturally means some will bring the pandemic to Houston, LA, Chicago and Miami, for instance.

There are no safe areas. There’s only the public space where you risk infection, and your home where you probably don’t.

David says:

Re: Re:

Well, Europe has by and large socialised health care. Being rich does not buy you exclusive access to a ventilator, so the incentive for a president like Trump to just let the shit hit the fan since the most privileged classes will have way better chances of survival is a lot less on the old continent.

From a private economy standpoint, letting the virus ravage through makes a lot of sense: the largest toll will be among the pensioners and near-pensioners, saving companies a lot of money in the long run.

That’s probably what Trump is hoping for. Also, of course, first pick for bailout money. At least the Democrats have gotten rid of the provision (I hope) that accountability of where money was going from the treasury was to be delayed until after the presidential election.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

At least the Democrats have gotten rid of the provision (I hope) that accountability of where money was going from the treasury was to be delayed until after the presidential election.

Wait, run that one by me again, because either I’m reading it wrong or you’re saying they tried to have a provision that would have left recording who got money from the ‘bailout’ until after the election, which is both utterly insane and a disgusting political stunt.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Being rich does not buy you exclusive access to a ventilator"(
I’m not so sure about that. Big time sports people, politicians, movie stars all get treatment immediately while not so rich die at home.

"Trump to just let the shit hit the fan "
The one thing he is good at.

"From a private economy standpoint, letting the virus ravage through makes a lot of sense:"
This may make sense in an alternate reality, but not this one.

"the largest toll will be among the pensioners and near-pensioners, saving companies a lot of money in the long run."
Because they do not want to meet their responsibility of paying back that money borrowed from said retired people over their entire career.

"That’s probably what Trump is hoping for"
He hopes people will die

Wait … you are serious?

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"From a private economy standpoint, letting the virus ravage through makes a lot of sense: the largest toll will be among the pensioners and near-pensioners, saving companies a lot of money in the long run."

Given that the business world has no shortage of sociopaths there will be those viewing that as a silver lining. But honestly, even from that point of view the pandemic is NOT in any way beneficial to business.

Anonymous Coward says:

While I don’t agree with what Trump’s been saying, I also don’t necessarily agree with your claim he’s been pushing snake oil. The chemical in question (chloroquine) is being tested and may potentially help the fight against COVID-19. The couple in question, including the deceased, found their aquarium cleaner contained the same chemical and decided they’d drink it. That’s pretty stupid no matter how you look at it. Desperate times lead people to take desperate measures. The news would have reached the US eventually anyway – several other countries are also trialling the drug.

But in times like this, Trump (and most other world leaders) need to shut up and let the experts talk.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"The chemical in question (chloroquine) is being tested and may potentially help the fight against COVID-19."

So it is. What Trump did, though, was guaranteed to prompt a great many people to try self-medicating themselves.

And that’s arguably as lethal as COVID-19 or more. Chloroquine is NOT a harmless OTC medication.

"But in times like this, Trump (and most other world leaders) need to shut up and let the experts talk."

I’d argue that Trump needs to shut up and let the experts talk no matter the circumstances. His go-to default whenever he’s called on to make an input has always been to simply start spewing bullshit.

What makes him dangerous is that if he isn’t called on to speak he simply isn’t interested, least of all if the speaker is some egghead who uses language he can’t or won’t understand.

It’s pretty telling that his whole response to the situation is aptly summarized with "I take no responsibility at all".

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"They only believe in science when it is being sprayed down upon the masses or when it is being added to the drinking water or creating the next waves of catastrophes in the form of eathquakes, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions courtesy of HAARP."

You know how I can tell you believe in science even less than Trump does?

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Anonymous Coward says:

DOJ should correctly take down this website for it’s disgusting and apparently infectious globalist socialist Propoganda. Anti-police, anti-copyright, anti-patent, and anti-American cesspools of phony pony disguised and radicalized germs posing as real people should be met with jail time, starting with the leader. Maybe he can share an isolated and infected cell with his ideological true love, Chelsea Manning.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If anything it strikes me that speaking out against that which you find objectionable even, or especially, it comes from an authority seems like it would be at the core of american values, with deference to authority being much more ‘anti-american’.

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