Authorities are ramping up efforts to prevent fraudsters from exploiting the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, taking pre-emptive steps against an expected surge in scam calls and phishing emails preying on older people.

Earlier this month, the Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA) set up a hotline catering exclusively to inquiries about novel coronavirus vaccine scams. The Metropolitan Police Department, too, is handing out flyers warning against suspicious callers who impersonate public servants and try to con older people into paying for what is claimed to be early access to vaccinations.

The vaccine rollout began last week, with the inoculation of front-line medical workers, but vaccine-linked scams had already emerged in January, when the approach of the vaccine program quickly captured national attention, according to a CAA official who declined to be named.