Phishing Scams Target Ozempic

New research from McAfee reveals a dramatic increase in phishing scams targeting consumers interested in popular weight loss drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Semaglutide.

Rising Phishing Scams

According to McAfee, a computer and cybersecurity company, phishing scams related to weight loss drugs rose 183% from January to April compared to the previous three months. These scams are capitalizing on the high demand and expensive nature of drugs like Ozempic, which can cost $1,000 a month.

How Phishing Scams Work

Criminals use phishing scams to trick individuals into sharing personal information. Typically, scammers send emails or messages pretending to be a reputable company or individual, asking for credit card information, passwords, or other sensitive details.

Common Platforms for Scams

Most scams occur on platforms like Facebook or Craigslist. Researchers found 207 fraudulent postings advertising Ozempic in a single day in April. On Facebook, scammers often pose as doctors offering Ozempic and other drugs without a prescription. Once they engage potential victims, they pressure them to use unconventional payment methods such as Bitcoin, Zelle, Venmo, and Cash App.

Example of a Scam

“One example on Facebook Marketplace included a ‘Doctor Melissa’ based in Canada who could provide Mounjaro and Ozempic without a prescription, with payment available through Bitcoin, Zelle, Venmo, and Cash App — all of which are non-standard payment methods for prescription drugs and should be red flags for consumers,” the McAfee report states.

Why Consumers Fall for Scams

Despite studies indicating that Ozempic costs just $5 to produce, it sells for about $1,000 a month. This high price makes consumers more susceptible to cheap online offers, according to McAfee.

“Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for ways to make their scams more attractive and believable,” Abhishek Karnik, head of McAfee’s Threat Research Team, told Business Insider. “Tapping into the current craze for Ozempic and related weight loss drugs is one way scammers can lure you in through phishing emails, fake social posts, or ads, all under the guise of a deal that seems too good to be true.”

Tips to Avoid Scams

McAfee recommends several tips to avoid falling victim to these scams:

  • Stay away from unofficial retailers.
  • Be cautious of suspiciously low prices or unusual payment methods.
  • Check for missing product details, such as expiration dates.

“Scam websites typically lack verifiable product information and sometimes are poorly designed with grammar issues,” McAfee notes. “Pay attention to and read the fine print.”

What to Do If You’re Scammed

If you fall victim to a scam, recovering your money can be challenging. The Federal Trade Commission suggests contacting the company, bank, or credit card issuer that facilitated the transaction to try and recover stolen funds.