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Eventbrite: ‘No evidence’ of vaccine scams in Florida

Florida legislators are fast-tracking a bill designed to protect people from bogus event scams, following reports of fake vaccination slots on Eventbrite

By IQ on 14 Jan 2021

Covid-19 vaccination

image © Sarasota County Health Department

Ticketing firm Eventbrite, best known for its global self-service event platform and club ticketing business in the US, has said there is no evidence its platform is being used to scam people in Florida, where officials are employing it to book appointments for Covid-19 vaccinations.

Following reports of people setting up fake events on Eventbrite that charge a fee for vaccination slots, Florida legislators are fast-tracking a bill that would make it a felony (ie a serious crime) to target people with bogus event listings, reports Tampa’s ABC Action News. “We want to send a very clear message that if you do that, if you stand in the way of a vulnerable population and a vaccine that they want to get, we are coming for you,” says Chris Sprowls, speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. “And when we do come for you, there will be handcuffs that will be involved.”

The use of Eventbrite is one of a number of novel methods local authorities in the US are using to get Covid-19 vaccines to citizens, with survey site SurveyMonkey and “companies like Google and Apple” also providing vaccine booking facilities, according to ABC News.

In Florida, Eventbrite has attracted the attention of the state’s attorney-general, Ashley Moody, who warned locals in a ‘consumer alert’ that scammers allegedly are using the platform “to pose as county health departments and take or attempt to take payments in exchange for Covid-19 vaccine appointments.”

“We have determined people mistakenly created new event listings when they meant to sign up for a time slot”

However, a spokesperson for the company says an internal investigation found no evidence of the scams Moody describes, with several unofficial event listings, some of which included a fee, the result of “user error” rather than fraudulent activity.

“Our team has thoroughly investigated and not found any evidence of vaccine registration events being created with the intent to scam people. We have confirmed the unofficial event listings in question, some which included a fee, were the result of user error. More specifically, we have determined people mistakenly created new event listings when they meant to sign up for a time slot.

“We recognise this has caused confusion and have published a guide on how to sign up for a time slot on Eventbrite. Additionally, we are continuing to closely monitor and remove any unofficial listings.

“We encourage anyone who finds potentially unofficial vaccine event listings on our platform to notify us. This resource helps people identify and report unofficial vaccination events, which can be done through our report this event feature, located at the bottom of every event listing on Eventbrite.

“Covid-19 vaccine distribution is a critical initiative, and we are actively exploring how our platform can best support the effort to increase access to vaccines.”


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