3 men created fake Moderna website to sell vaccines, Justice Department says

Three Maryland men have been charged with wire fraud for creating a fake website resembling Moderna's that claimed to sell COVID-19 vaccines, according to the U.S. Department of Justice

Federal prosecutors said the three men — Olakitan Oluwalade, Odunayo Baba Oluwalade and  Kelly Lamont Williams — created a website called www.modernatx.shop that closely resembled Moderna's actual website, called www.modernatx.com. The site displayed the name and trademarked logos for Moderna and claimed that people could buy COVID-19 vaccines for $30 per dose, the Justice Department said Feb. 11. 

An undercover agent contacted the number listed on the fake site in January and set up a transaction for 200 doses of the vaccine for $6,000. The men never had any doses of the vaccine, according to the Justice Department. 

It's unclear how much money the three men may have made from the site. Each faces a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and if convicted, a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. 

"As the public seeks vaccines to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19, fraudsters are waiting to take advantage of their desperation," James Mancuso, a special agent from Homeland Security Investigations Baltimore, said in a news release. "We want to remind the public to exercise extreme caution online, especially when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and protective equipment."

Read the full news release here.


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