U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials seized more than 3,000 fake COVID-19 vaccination cards in Anchorage, Alaska, that came from China—the second such instance in about a week.
According to a news release from CBP, the fabricated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cards from China were of “low quality” but still “closely resemble” real CDC vaccine cards provided by healthcare practitioners when administering the vaccine around the United States.
“Getting these fraudulent cards off the streets and out of the hands of those who would then sell them is important for the safety of the American public,” said Lance Robinson, Area Port Director of the Area Port of Anchorage, according to the release. “Looking out for the welfare of our fellow Alaskans is one of the many and varied responsibilities CBP is proud to take on.”
Last week, CBP officials in Memphis, Tennessee, said they obtained thousands of fake COVID-19 vaccine cards in Memphis, Tennessee, which were en route to New Orleans, Louisiana. Those cards were also manufactured in China.
“Recently, CBP has been seizing a high volume of counterfeit vaccination cards throughout the country,” the agency said this week, without elaborating.
In Illinois, the Department of Justice announced it arrested a Chicago pharmacist, Tangtang Zhao, for selling authentic vaccine cards over the internet. Zhao faces as many as 120 years in prison.
With the latest seizure, it appears likely that fake vaccine cards are increasingly in demand as various municipalities like New York City and San Francisco start to mandate vaccine passports for certain public activities.
Vaccine passport systems have been criticized by civil liberties groups for potentially creating a segregated society of those who received the vaccine and those who have not. Other critics have said that these systems could potentially imperil individuals’ right to privacy, and GOP governors and state legislatures, including in Texas and Florida, have moved to bar their use in recent months.
Nonetheless, top officials, including White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zeints, as well as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in recent days have warned that buying and selling fake vaccine cards with the CDC seal is a crime.
Over the past weekend, Schumer called for a federal crackdown on fabricated CDC cards, claiming that “too many people are looking to buy them.”
“They are paying money for a fake card and risking prosecution,” the New York Democrat said during a press conference. “Who could be that dumb? Who could be that dumb? The vaccine is free, the vaccine is safe: Get the vaccine.”