‘Criminals’ impersonating state agents to scam people during vaccine rollout, Texas DSHS warns

Bizar Male

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — Robert Amparan and his wife have been getting their groceries delivered and limiting trips out of their house for months. So, when the phone rang, and a man offered to administer a COVID-19 vaccine to them at their Pflugerville home, they were intrigued.

“We are in that age bracket where we are in danger,” he said.

The person called from a West Texas area code, claiming to work with the Texas Department of State Health Services. Amparan told KXAN he and his wife sensed a few red flags: how would this driver keep the shots at the required temperature? Why hadn’t they heard about this initiative yet?

“I have no idea what their intentions are,” he said. “I mean, is that just to get your address to know where you live? Are they actually going to come by, and if they are actually giving you a shot — what are they giving you? Something to knock you out, and then they rob you blind?”

Amparan said the man asked if he was receiving Medicare payments, then told him they would call him back to schedule an appointment.

When Amparan decided to follow up instead, the number had been disconnected. He decided to call Medicare to report the incident and even considered contacting police.

On Tuesday, DSHS sent out a warning that read, “Criminals are impersonating Texas government agencies to scam people during the #COVID19 pandemic. DSHS or contact tracers will never ask for your social security, credit card, or other financial information.

Chris Van Deusen, a spokesperson for the agency, said they are working to expand vaccine access across the state through clinics and “hubs,” but their agents are not making house calls.

“It’s not a sort of door-to-door effort, so that’s something that would put me on guard if I got a call like that,” Van Deusen said.

Heather Massey with the Better Business Bureau said they starting seeing potential scams reported before the vaccine was even available. They encourage people to report suspicious activity to their Scam Tracker.

Tonight on KXAN News at 10 p.m., KXAN’s Avery Travis will have more on why the Better Business Bureau thinks these cases may be on the rise.

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