Scammers now peddling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards

fake vaccination cards
Photo via New York National Guard/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)
  • This story is regularly updated for relevance. Last updated: May 10, 2021

Some may be looking to avoid what they view as an overreaching government. Others may be using them to jump the line and secure a vaccination. But what they all have in common is illegally purchasing fake COVID-19 vaccination cards. 

According to an alert from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, scammers are both selling fake Centers for Disease Control vaccination cards and encouraging others to print them at home. The sale or purchase of a vaccine card that was not handed to an individual after they’ve received their COVID-19 vaccination is a fraudulent card, illegal due to the unauthorized use of the CDC seal. 

“By misrepresenting yourself as vaccinated when entering schools, mass transit, workplaces, gyms, or places of worship, you put yourself and others around you at risk of contracting COVID-19,” the alert reads.

While some are proud to show off their brand new vaccine cards, others may be reticent to get the injection altogether. The alternative being offered—and taken—is to have fake vaccination cards that will leave friends; community members; and, in some cases, travel agencies under the impression that someone is vaccinated against the coronavirus when they are not.

According to NBC News, pro-Trump and anti-vaccination internet forums have posted directions for how to make a fake vaccination card.

Letters that detail the illegal nature of buying or selling fake vaccination cards have been sent from a bipartisan group of state attorneys general to CEOs of major commerce companies like Shopify, eBay, and Twitter. The letter requests that they monitor their platforms for ads, posts, or listings that advertise fraudulent cards. 

So far, Facebook, Twitter, Shopify, Etsy, and eBay have stated that the sale of fake vaccination cards violates their rules and that such postings would be removed. 

It has also been advised by the FBI that those who have already gotten their vaccines should avoid posting their cards online, as information on these cards can be lifted to create more fraudulent cards or used to steal identities. 

In early May, a California bar owner was charged with felony identity theft and forging government documents along with a misdemeanor charge of falsifying medical records. The owner allegedly sold fake vaccination cards to undercover agents for $20.

The New York Times reports that the sale of vaccination cards began just a month after they were implemented— both stolen authentic cards which made their way into the market through healthcare workers exploiting their access and those easily forged from online samples. 

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Sources: The New York Times, NBC San Diego, AARP, International Crime Complaint Center

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