MERCER COUNTY, W.v. (WVVA) -- As the COVID vaccine continues to roll-out across the two Virginia's, there's a serious word of warning.
There are already people trying to prey on those who hope to be vaccinated against Coronavirus.
It's no secret that scammers try to take advantage of any situation where they think they can make a buck and the pandemic is no different.
FBI special agent, Tony Rausa, says "We have seen a tremendous amount of fraud throughout the pandemic."
From fake protective equipment to over-expensive waiting lists, Rausa says that fraudulent vaccine distribution is next, with one specific demographic in West Virginia especially at-risk.
"Elderly people are the most susceptible to this," said Rausa. "They are susceptible to the virus and so they tend to be living in fear at this point in this thing. And con men love to take advantage of fear."
When it comes to vaccine scams, unsolicited phone calls and emails asking for advanced out of pocket payment, or offers to pay to be put on a waiting list, as well as social media ads for vaccines are some of the tactics these scammers are using.
Rausa says using familiar providers is the key to avoid being ripped off.
"You should be going through your health care provider, your county, town, state health boards, the natural avenues these vaccines would come through."
If someone feels that a scammer be within their midst?
"If you've been contacted and you think you're getting this vaccine, call your board of health, check that organization out, go to the better businesses bureau, make sure they're a legitimate health care provider," said Rausa.
Leaders in the Mercer County Health department say they keep close tabs on the vaccine distribution.
"We double check everything we do, and we would not ask someone to pay for the vaccine, that could be a sign if someone approached them, we just make sure everything matches when the doses come in," said Brenda Donithan, Interim Administrator for the Mercer County Health Department.
Even though COVID vaccine scams are new, the time-tested advice to spot their illicit offers still applies,
"If something is too good to be true, it probably is. Take additional steps to verify the sources of the people you're talking to, the source of the vaccine, you should not be paying for a vaccine from a source you do not consider one hundred percent reliable," said Rausa.