Over the past year amid vaccine hesitancy debates, federal officials have also been battling on another front against forged COVID-19 vaccination cards.
U.S. border patrol states that federal officials have seized thousands of phony COVID-19 vaccination cards. Just last Friday, “U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)…reported confiscating 3,017 of the fraudulent paper cards from 121 shipments that had arrived at a Memphis port from China,” according to Huffington Post.
CBP said that at first glance, the cards appear similar to authentic vaccination cards with blanks for patient and other pertinent information, including the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) logo. But, upon closer inspection, typos can easily be spotted, along with some unfinished and misspelled Spanish words.
In response to those trying to dodge these proof of vaccination requirements in order to gain access to public spaces, Michael Neipert, Area Port Director of Memphis, said “If you do not wish to receive a vaccine, that is your decision. But don’t order a counterfeit, waste my officer’s time, break the law, and misrepresent yourself…When you order a fake vaxx card, you are using my officers time as they also seize fentanyl and methamphetamines,” in a statement.
The Associated Press reports that college officials are especially worried about this trend as “they are concerned about how easy it is to get fake vaccine cards. Across the internet, a cottage industry has sprung up to accommodate people who say they won’t get vaccinated for either personal or religious reasons…[and a]n increasing number of inquiries to these sites and similar ones appear to be from those who are trying to get fake vaccination cards for college.”
As seizures of this nature continue to be reported throughout the nation, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has called upon the CBP to team up with both FBI and HHS officials in a concerted effort against the influx of counterfeit vaccination cards. Huffington Post reports that “Schumer further requested that the Justice Department prioritize cases involving these cards and for the CBP to strengthen its efforts detecting them upon their overseas arrival.”
As the U.S. continues to grapple with this brand of counterfeiting, “[t]he FBI has warned the public that buying, selling, or using a counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination card is a crime. It can be categorized as the unauthorized use of an official government agency seal (such as HHS or CDC) and may be punishable under Title 18 United States Code, Section 1017, and other applicable laws. Violators face a fine and up to five years in prison.”