UPDATED: 8:57 a.m. ET, Oct. 19, 2021
Originally Published 9:00 a.m. Aug. 16, 2021
Hockey forward Evander Kane was suspended from the NHL for 21 games after he was investigated for submitting a fake vaccination card. According to CBC news, the star will forfeit over $1.6 million of his season salary.
Fake vaccination cards are starting to circulate throughout the United States and a new black market is on the rise.
COVID-19 is once again on the uptick in the United States, proof of vaccination has become a hot topic amongst lawmakers and business owners. Many states have already mandated that government workers be vaccinated or tested weekly, now the private sector is following suit.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently signed an order that would require proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, gyms, and other public places in the Big Apple. California has mandated vaccines or testing for all teachers and school employees.
Businesses have also taken it upon themselves to give mandates.
Philadelphia’s Made In America Festival and the Midtown Music Festival in Atlanta will each require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before entry. There are also about 700 colleges that will require proof of vaccines before school this fall.
About 57% of the U.S population is vaccinated, which leaves 43% of Americans not allowed to frequent their favorite restaurants or barbershops unless they get vaccinated. But instead of taking the shot, some are turning to the black market and acquiring their vaccination cards illegally.
The Fake Vaccination Card Black Market
Americans all over the country are turning to the internet to buy fake vaccination cards. The FBI recently issued a warning about fake vaccination cards being on the rise on the darknet.
According to KXAN, some 4,000 Texans have taken to an app called Telegram to join a forum group called “Texas Vaccination Card CDC,” hoping to get their hands on fake vaccine cards. They can also purchase immunization records and “fit to fly certificates, all for bitcoin, of course.
This illegal transaction of records isn’t just a Texas issue. In Memphis, authorities intercepted a shipment of fake COVID vaccination cards headed to New Orleans from China. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers in Memphis said they seized more than 3,000 fraudulent cards. As more and more businesses mandate their customers to show vaccination cards, the faster the black market for fake vaccination cards will grow.
Some people are taking to the internet and purchasing them illegally through darknet websites such as Telegram, while others have been arrested with fraudulent documents in their pockets at airports or federal buildings. Others use Photoshop to forge cards, while some just take photos from Google Images. All these situations could leave you open to criminal punishment if caught.
For example, a California doctor was federally charged for allegedly falsifying COVID-19 vaccination cards. She allegedly told her patients that the FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine contained “toxic ingredients” and instructed them to forge documents claiming they had received the vaccination from her. She was charged with one count of wire fraud and another count of false statements related to health care matters.
Using Or Creating A Fake Vaccination Card
Creating or using a forged government document is a federal crime and could land you up to five years in federal prison. Federal statutes make it illegal to use any government seal in a forged document. All U.S. vaccination cards have the CDC logo in the right corner. If this shows up on a fake vaccine card, you are committing a crime. If you are caught with one, even if your intention is just to show as proof, you will be breaking the law and may end up being punished, according to U.S Federal statutes.
Read the U.S. Federal statute below…
“Whoever fraudulently or wrongfully affixes or impresses the seal of any department or agency of the United States, to or upon any certificate, instrument, commission, document, or paper or with knowledge of its fraudulent character, with wrongful or fraudulent intent, uses, buys, procures, sells, or transfers to another any such certificate, instrument, commission, document, or paper, to which or upon which said seal has been so fraudulently affixed or impressed, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”
Avoiding Fake Vaccination Cards
The best way to avoid fake vaccination cards is to keep a close eye on your own card. If you see any signs of tampering, making sure it’s not expired or has never been activated, then contact the issuer and have them issue a replacement card right away.
For business owners: You can ask for an ID while also asking to see your customers’ or clients’ vaccination cards. Do not take or post photos of your vaccination card on the internet. Scammers can use the photos to make duplicates of your card, then sell them on the black market. If possible, do not email your vaccination card. If an employer or any business asked to see your card, try to show them the card face to face.
It’s also a good idea to sign up for text alerts from your healthcare provider so they can send information about being immunized or showing proof of vaccination straight to you. If you know someone with a fake vaccine card, be aware this person may have committed a federal crime.