Chicago Pharmacist Arrested for Selling Vaccination Cards for $10  

August 17, 2021 Topic: Pandemic Region: Americas Blog Brand: Coronavirus Tags: CoronavirusPandemicVaccinationVaccineVaccination Cards

Chicago Pharmacist Arrested for Selling Vaccination Cards for $10  

The California doctor was charged with one count each of wire fraud and of false statements related to health care matters.

As vaccine mandates begin to go into effect everywhere from New York City restaurants to the Las Vegas Raiders’ home stadium to next January’s International CES, the idea is to incentivize people to get vaccinated. 

This has, as expected, led to demand for fake vaccine cards, or even repurposing real ones for sale. And now we have one of the first major arrests for carrying out such a scheme. 

Recently, a Chicago pharmacist was arrested for selling more than one hundred coronavirus vaccination cards to eleven buyers on eBay. The thirty-four-year-old man sold the cards for $10 each, according to the Department of Justice. He was charged with twelve counts of theft of government property. 

The pharmacist worked at a company that distributed vaccines for the coronavirus.  

It’s important to note that while there has been concern about the forgery of the vaccine cards, the Chicago case concerned vaccination cards that are genuine.

“We take seriously, and will vigorously investigate, any criminal offense that contributes to the distrust around vaccines and vaccination status,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said in a press statement. “The Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting the American people from these offenses during this national emergency.” 

“Knowingly selling COVID vaccination cards to unvaccinated individuals puts millions of Americans at risk of serious injury or death,” Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office said in the press statement. “To put such a small price on the safety of our nation is not only an insult to those who are doing their part in the fight to stop COVID-19, but a federal crime with serious consequences.”

Back in July, a naturopathic doctor in California was arrested and charged with both selling “homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets” and with falsifying coronavirus vaccination cards.  

The California doctor was charged with one count each of wire fraud and of false statements related to health care matters, in what the federal government described as “the first federal criminal fraud prosecution related to homeoprophylaxis immunizations and fraudulent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 vaccination record cards.” 

Back in April, months before the California case, a group of state attorneys general wrote a letter to the CEOs of Twitter, eBay, and Shopify, warning of the “deceptive marketing and sales of fake COVID vaccine cards.”  

“It has come to our attention that your platforms are being used to market and sell blank or fraudulently completed COVID vaccine cards bearing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention logo,” the letter stated. “We are deeply concerned about this use of your platforms to spread false and misleading information regarding COVID vaccines. The false and deceptive marketing and sales of fake COVID vaccine cards threatens the health of our communities, slows progress in getting our residents protected from the virus, and are a violation of the laws of many states.” 

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver. 

Image: Reuters