We’ve heard the slogan “it takes all of us” many times throughout the coronavirus pandemic that first appeared on American soil more than a year ago. As millions of Americans have worked together to prevent the spread of the deadly virus by wearing masks, expeditiously washing hands and social distancing, it appears there have been some deceptive individuals who are working against us to make a profit from this very unfortunate public health crisis.
Marylanders Olakitan Oluwalade, 22, and his cousin, Odunayo Baba Oluwalade, 25, both of Windsor Mill, and Kelly Lamont Williams, 22, of Owings Mills, have been indicted by the District Court of Baltimore for allegedly setting up a fake website to sell coronavirus vaccines for $30 per dose.
Out of the two vaccines available, the trio targeted Moderna Inc. They created a fake website domain that closely resembled the vaccine manufacturer’s website even down to the logo, color, and copy contained on the real website. (The fraudsters used the domain name modernatx.shop to lead purchasers away from the company’s real site, modernatx.com.)
The ruse was discovered when a federal agent posed as a customer and ordered 6,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine through the bogus website. The agent was advised to wire half the money due to a Navy Federal Credit Union account in the name of Williams. (Well, that’s not suspicious at all. A large purchase from a now very well-known company that asks you to wire money to some guy’s bank account.).
A few days following the placement of the large order, federal agents seized the fraudulent website and searched Williams’ home. After uncovering communications between Williams and the cousins about the crime, the agent posed as Williams and sent the cousins money for their fake vaccines. (Apparently, what happened next sealed the fate of these unscrupulous men.)
The three co-defendants have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which could result in each facing 20 years in federal prison. (Just as it’s going to take all of us to working together to eliminate COVID-19, it will also take all of us working together to eradicate coronavirus-related fraud.)
If you suspect coronavirus-related fraud, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721.
Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Three Baltimore County men charged with building a fraudulent website to sell COVID-19 vaccines,” published by the Baltimore Sun, on February 11, 2021.
Federal prosecutors indicted three men in Baltimore County for allegedly running a scam website to sell coronavirus vaccines for $30 a dose.
Prosecutors indicted Olakitan Oluwalade, 22, and his cousin, Odunayo Baba Oluwalade, 25, both of Windsor Mill. They also indicted Kelly Lamont Williams, 22, of Owings Mills. The three men are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and each could face 20 years in federal prison.