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Fake and fraudulent coronavirus vaccine cards are dangerous. Here’s why

‘Over 500,000 people dead is not a joke. Creating vaccine skepticism when this could end the pandemic is not a joke,’ said a pharmacist who’s calling out peddlers of fake vaccine cards

Juan Carlos Guerrero, 62, holds his second shot reminder card after receiving a dose of the Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Juan Carlos Guerrero, 62, holds his second shot reminder card as he speaks to a health care worker after having received a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, at the Miami-Dade County Tropical Park vaccination site in Miami. Fake or fraudulent coronavirus vaccine cards are growing in popularity as governments and businesses mull the idea of using the documentation as a possible way to begin relaxing pandemic restrictions.
Wilfredo Lee, Associated Press

Fake or fraudulent coronavirus vaccine cards are growing in popularity as governments and businesses mull the idea of using the documentation as a possible way to begin relaxing pandemic restrictions.

The fraudulent proof of COVID-19 prophylaxis could be used as a way for the vaccine-hesitant — or those tired of waiting to qualify for the vaccines — to pass off their verification of immunity.

Nearly a third of American adults have said they would not get the coronavirus vaccine if it was available to them, NPR reported.

Where are fake vaccine cards being sold?

The fake blank cards have been found not just on the darknet, but also on popular internet markets.

Users of easily accessible online markers, such OfferUp, Craigslist and eBay, were selling blank vaccine cards for up to $200, Chicago’s NBC 5 reported.

  • “It seems that they’re printed on very similar card stock (with) near identical font,” said senior security research Chad Anderson, NBC 5 reported. “They’re being sold under the guise of novelty cards.” Anderson works for Domaintools, “a group tracking cyber threats around the world,” according to NBC 5.

An “ad on the darknet marketplace ... offers a vaccination card for $150, accepting crypto currencies as the payment method,” according to an investigation by Check Point Research, a cyberthreat security company.

  • The number of online venders of the fake vaccines cards had tripled — from hundreds to more than 1,200 — since January, according to Check Point Research’s findings.

Forging vaccine cards

TikTok users Becca Walker and Savannah Sparks (who is also a pharmacist) have begun identifying and reporting alleged health care professionals on TikTok who claimed to have forged coronavirus vaccine cards, The Daily Beast reported.

  • The pair have “posted more than half a dozen TikTok videos calling out health-care workers who’ve talked online about forging or attempting to forge vaccine cards. And they say other users have sent them dozens more tips they haven’t been able to verify,” according to The Daily Beast.
  • Walker and Sparks told The Daily Beast they have “called out and reported” and array of alleged health care professionals for a “trauma nurse at a children’s hospital” to “a receptionist at an asthma clinic.”

“I work at a pharmacy and grabbed blank ones for me and my hubby,” wrote one of the alleged health care worker in the comments section of a TikTok, The Daily Beast reported.

  • Walker and Sparks said they reported the health care worker to state officials and then posted their own TikToks calling out the health care professional, according to The Daily Beast.
  • “Stop hating on me! I don’t care what any of you think. I did what is best for my husband and I,” the alleged health care professional responded, reported The Daily Beast.

The sale of fraudulent vaccine cards can have serious consequences and perpetuate vaccine skepticism.

James Koncar — a marketing and web design employee in Tampa, Florida — was fired from his job “after a TikTok user exposed his video advertising a fake COVID-19 vaccine card business,” Axios reported.

  • “We don’t have time to joke. Patient safety and public health are not a joke. Over 500,000 people dead is not a joke,” said Savannah Malm, the Mississippi pharmacist who called out Koncar on TikTok, according to Axios.
  • “Creating vaccine skepticism when this could end the pandemic is not a joke. If you’re going to post it on social media, I’m going to respond on social media,” Malm said, Axios reported.