FBI: Fake, Stolen Vaccination Cards Are a New Problem

Some states are easing COVID-19 restrictions for those who can provide proof of vaccination, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation says online sales of fake and stolen vaccination cards are increasing.

COVID-19 Vaccine Card - editorial use only, used once
Shutterstock/vovidzha
(TNS) — Oregon announced Tuesday that fully vaccinated people now can go maskless in public indoor spaces, but only with proof that they’ve been inoculated against COVID-19. Some other states are considering similar approaches as they too fully reopen their economies.

Anticipation of this development is surely one of the reasons fake vaccination cards have been selling briskly on eBay, Etsy and other Internet sites for weeks.

“We are seeing these vaccination cards being sold on many social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even TikTok,” FBI Special Agent Jeanette Harper said in a press statement last month.

An official vaccination card, which is a 3-x-4-inch piece of common heavy-stock paper with straightforward printing on it, is relatively easy to fraudulently reproduce. Selling (or buying) fake vaccination cards could result in a prison sentence of up to five years, as well as a fine, the FBI says.

Legitimate vaccination cards also are being stolen. Police in Nassau County, New York, this week arrested a pharmacy employee for stealing more than 50 blank vaccination cards, Forbes reports.

Zachary Honig, 21, told police he was going to “share them with family members and friends, so that they could go into venues and possibly even use them at schools.”

There have been a handful of similar arrests in other states in recent weeks.

This thriving trade in fake and stolen vaccination cards could make Oregon’s new COVID-19 policy difficult for entertainment venues, retailers and eateries.

Cybersecurity expert Alyssa Miller pointed out to NBC:

“How are you going to make someone at the opposite end, the ones who are supposed to be verifying these, look at one and determine if it’s legitimate or if it’s fake?”

Oregon, it appears, mostly will be relying on the honor system. Officials don’t expect businesses to verify the authenticity of cards.

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, Oregon’s state epidemiologist, said this week that state officials “hope that Oregonians will not lie or cheat and put others at risk by forging a vaccine record if they aren’t vaccinated.”

©2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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