Strike Force Alioth formed to investigate vaccine bookings

Thursday, 19 August 2021 04:25:42 PM

Detectives from State Crime Command’s Cybercrime Squad will address the media after about 60 people booked COVID-19 vaccines under allocations reserved for health care workers at the weekend.

On Saturday (14 August 2021), officers attached to Inner West Police Area Command were notified by Sydney Local Health District after several members of the public attended a hospital at Camperdown the previous day for vaccine bookings purportedly made by essential healthcare workers.

Further inquiries revealed a link was shared with the attendees which allowed them to be allocated a vaccine despite being ineligible for priority bookings.

The case was referred to detectives from the State Crime Command’s Cybercrime Squad and an investigation was established under Strike Force Alioth.

The bookings were made through an online NSW Health vaccination booking service, with some users required to pay a fee prior to attending the hospital.

Initial inquiries suggest the opportunity to receive a priority vaccination was circulated through the social media application WeChat.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott condemned those responsible for the scam.

“I find it breathtaking how heartless and soulless this kind of scam is: it targets those who are the most fearful of the current pandemic and exploits their fears,” Mr Elliott said.

“I condemn those who think up these scams and hope the community will work with police to identify those responsible.

“In Australia you do not pay for a COVID vaccine,” he said.

Cybercrime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Mathew Craft, said police are appealing for anyone who may have used the booking link to come forward.

“These types of targeting scams are unacceptable, and we urge anyone who may have fallen victim to contact police,” D/Supt Craft said.

For more information on eligibility for a COVID-19 vaccination and booking information, visit https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/health-and-wellbeing/covid-19-vaccination-nsw/get-your-covid-19-vaccination-nsw

Anyone with information that may assist investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.