SAN FRANCISCO – On Etsy, eBay, Facebook, and Twitter, small squares of paper go on sale in late January. Printed on card stock, it measures three by four inches and features crisp black lettering. Vendors are listed for $ 20 to $ 60 per person, with discounts on bundles of three or more. Laminate is available at an additional cost.
All are forged or falsified copies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination cards given to people who have been given the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States.
“We found hundreds of online stores selling cards, possibly thousands of sales,”; said FakeSpot founder Saoud Khalifah, which offers online fraud detection tools and reviews.
The corona virus leaves many opportunists, such as those hoarding hand sanitizers at the start of the epidemic, or those who cheat recipients from inspections. Online scammers are now holding onto their latest profitability initiative: a small white card that provides evidence of a shot.
An online store that offers fake or stolen vaccine cards has emerged in recent weeks, Khalifah said. The effort is far from secret, with a Facebook page called “vax-cards” and eBay listings. With a “blank vaccine card” openly sold
Legal experts say the sale of counterfeit vaccination cards could violate federal law that prohibits CDC logos copying.If cards are stolen and falsely filled in numbers and dates, these cards could also violate personal information theft laws.
But beneficiaries have pressed forward as card demands rise from anti-vaccine activists and other groups.Airlines and other companies have recently said they may need evidence of a COVID vaccination. -19 to enable people to travel or participate in activities safely.
Such cards may become the centerpiece of “Vaccine Passport,” which contains digital proof of vaccination. Some technology companies developing vaccine passports are asking people to upload copies of their CDC cards. Los Angeles recently started using CDC cards to prove vaccination. Build digital immunity
Last week, 45 state lawyers gathered to urge Twitter, Shopify and eBay to stop selling fake and stolen vaccine cards. Officials say they are monitoring the activity and worry that unvaccinated people misuse the cards to participate in large events, potentially transmitting the virus and causing the epidemic for a long time.
“We are seeing a huge market for these fake cards online,” said Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania Attorney General, whose office has investigated virus-related fraud. ”
The CDC said it was “aware of fraud cases involving fake Covid-19 vaccine cards” urging citizens not to share images of personal information or vaccine cards on social media.
Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Shopify and Etsy say the sale of fake vaccine cards violates their rules and that they are removing posts advertising the product.
The CDC released a vaccination card in December, describing it as the “easiest” way to track Covid-19 imagery. By January, sales of counterfeit vaccine cards were improving, Khalifah said. Falsified from examples available online. He said the genuine card was stolen from work and sold by pharmacists.
Many people who bought the tickets disagreed with the COVID-19 vaccine, Khalifah said. In some anti-vaccine groups on Facebook, people have publicly bragged about getting their cards.
“My body, I choose myself,” wrote one comment on a Facebook post last month, another replied, “Can’t wait to get mine, haha.”
Other buyers wanted to use the card to trick pharmacists to give them the vaccine, Khalifah said. Since some vaccines are a double vaccination method, people can enter the wrong date for their first vaccination on the card, which will make it look like they need a second dose soon. Some state pharmacies and vaccination sites cater to people because of their second vaccination.
One Etsy seller, who declined to be identified, said she sold dozens of fake vaccine cards for $ 20 each.She recently argued her actions, saying she helped people evade. She added that she did not plan to vaccinate.
Proponents of the vaccine said they had a problem with the spread of fake and stolen cards. To keep those people accountable, Savannah Sparks, a pharmacist in Biloxi, Miss., Started posting videos on TikTok last month, naming the seller of a fake vaccine card.
In one video, Ms.Sparks explains how she follows the name of an Illinois pharmacy technician who grabs several cards for herself and her husband and posts about it online. The pharmacy technician did not reveal her identity. But it has linked the post to her social media account where she uses her real name. The video has 1.2 million views.
“It infuriates me that pharmacists use this method to reach and position her,” Ms. Sparks said. The video caught the attention of the Illinois Pharmacists Association, which said the video was reported to the state board. For further investigation
Ms. Sparks said her work attracted detractors and vaccine opponents who threatened her and posted her home phone number and address online. But she had no one deterred.
“They should be first in encouraging people to get vaccinated,” she said of pharmacists, “but they try to use their positions to spread fear and help people avoid getting vaccinated.”
Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro said that in addition to violating federal copyright laws, selling counterfeit and stolen cards often violates the civil and consumer protection laws that mandate the use of goods. As advertised The guards may also violate state law on impersonation, he said.
“We want to see them stop immediately,” Shapiro said of the criminals, “and we want to see companies take it seriously and immediately.”