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Eventbrite says vaccine scammer claims are ‘without merit’

Eventbrite has hit back at Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody after she warned locals of scam COVID-19 vaccine events on the ticketing platform.

The event management firm, which has been used to schedule vaccine appointments by several health departments in counties across Florida, said the claims are “inaccurate and without merit.”

In a response to Moody’s consumer alert on Thursday, Eventbrite said that while there has been unofficial event listings, some of which included a fee, they were the result of “user error” rather than fraudulent activity.

The US state, which has had one of the highest records of coronavirus cases in the country, began giving the first round of vaccinations to those aged 65 and older in the final days of 2020. However, with no state-wide distribution system in place, local healthcare providers have been charged with creating their own systems to distribute vaccines, with many turning to Eventbrite.

Moody said last week: “Scammers used the popular event website Eventbrite to pose as county health departments and take or attempt to take payments in exchange for COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

“Consumer protection investigators and criminal prosecutors in my office are aggressively pursuing reports of scammers taking money in exchange for phony COVID-19 vaccine reservations.

“States are overseeing the free COVID-19 vaccine distribution rather than the federal government. To help manage appointment scheduling, several counties in Florida have turned to ticketing services like Eventbrite; however, no county is charging for vaccine reservations.”

In response, an Eventbrite spokesperson said: “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.”

Eventbrite also highlighted it has produced a guide on Coronavirus Resources for Event Schedulers as well as FAQs about coronavirus vaccine events.

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