The number of Ozempic and Wegovy scams has grown by 183% so far this year

The number of Ozempic and Wegovy scams has grown by 183% so far this year
  • Phishing scams targeting weight loss drugs like Ozempic rose 183% from January to April.

  • Social media sites like Facebook are hotspots for these scams, McAfee says.

  • Scammers exploit the high cost of these drugs to lure victims with cheap offers.

If anyone knows a good deal when they see it, it's an online scammer.

The trendy weight loss drug Ozempic, which can cost $1,000 a month, is an opportunity apparently too good for them to pass up.

New research released by McAfee, a computer and cybersecurity company, says that phishing scams targeting consumers interested in weight loss drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Semaglutide rose 183% from January to April compared to the previous three months.

Criminals use phishing scams to trick people into sharing personal information. A scammer usually sends an email or some other message pretending to be a company or individual the victim is familiar with, asking for credit card info, passwords, or other sensitive information.

Most scams occur on sites like Facebook or Craigslist, where researchers said they found 207 phony postings advertising Ozempic in just one day in April.

On Facebook, scammers often pretend to be doctors, claiming to hand out Ozempic and other drugs without a prescription, the report says. Once they contact potential victims, the scammers pressure them to use unconventional payment methods for prescription drugs, McAfee says.

"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 report says.

While studies say Ozempic costs just $5 to make, the drug sells for about $1,000 a month. This high price makes some consumers more eager to take a cheap offer online, McAfee says.

"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."

Some tips McAfee recommends to avoid becoming a victim of scams are to stay away from unofficial retailers, watch out for suspiciously low prices or strange payment methods, and watch for missing product details, such as expiration dates.

"Scam websites typically lack verifiable product information and sometimes are poorly designed with grammar issues," the company says. "Pay attention to and read the fine print."

If you fall victim to a scam, money can be difficult for law enforcement to recover. The Federal Trade Commission recommends reaching out to whatever company, bank, or credit card company helped you facilitate the money transfer to try and recover stolen funds.

Read the original article on Business Insider