FBI warning: Fraudsters selling fake Covid vaccination cards online

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 10:34 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -The FBI is sounding the alarm on fake Covid vaccination cards being sold online.

The federal agency issued a warning, urging people not to make or buy fake Covid-19 vaccination cards. Fraudulent Covid cards have appeared on online platforms such as social media and eBay.

“There’s definitely a picture of me out on Instagram holding my vaccine card and giving a thumbs up,” April van Buren, Madison resident said.

Some call it a badge of honor.

“I’m really happy that I got the vaccine, and I will feel even better when more and more people have access to it,” she said.

Van Buren scored her first Covid shot in March, but she said the vaccination card wasn’t easy to keep track of.

“I was like ‘oh I better not lose that,’ and I put it somewhere special,” she said.

She explained she’s relying on a backup system if she needs proof she got the shot.

“I’m not too worried about it because I did have to give my insurance information and it’s in a computer system somewhere,” she said.

With access to photos of vaccine cards on social media platforms, fraudsters are creating their own system selling fake vaccine cards online.

“It’s against the law,” Nicholas Davis, UW Systems security expert said. “This is a federal identification document of some type and you’re committing fraud when you do this. It’s a violation and that should be something that people should be very concerned about.”

The health-related stamp of approval could be a ticket to visit some destinations, making it a hot commodity on the black market.

“The problem is it’s very simple to forge one of these documents you can easily print one set yourself at home. There are no good copy protection measures on these documents,” he said.

Davis explained there is a chance people who buy the card won’t even receive it.

“The people you are dealing with have already demonstrated they are unethical and don’t have a problem breaking the law,” he said. He added the buyer’s credit card information might be used by the scammer to put fraudulent charges on your account.

Experts said if you get caught selling or buying a card you will pay the price.

“If you should buy a card like this you’re opening yourself up to potential extortion in the future,” Davis said.

The idea of vaccination cards as proof a person is vaccinated is up for debate. The Biden administration is working on finding a secure system to store the information, because these scams show a piece of paper doesn’t cut it.

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