Attorneys general warn against sale of fake COVID vaccine cards

Officials urge people not to post images of their cards online

As immunizations continue to be administered into millions of arms across the country, cybercriminals are looking to cash in on fake vaccination cards, supported by those who don’t want the shot.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, along with dozens of other state attorneys general, called on OfferUp, an online mobile marketplace, to prevent fraudulent or blank COVID-19 vaccine cards from being sold on its platform, warning them that people could be using their platforms to sell blank and fraudulently completed COVID vaccine cards with the CDC logo on them.

“If you want to get a vaccine card, you can do so by signing up to get the vaccine for free,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “Platforms that allow people to buy and sell fraudulent vaccine cards are only putting more people at risk of catching this virus and stretching out this pandemic. My colleagues and I are urging these companies to do more to stop these sales.”

In their letter, the attorneys general urge OfferUp to take down ads or links selling blank or fraudulent vaccination cards and preserve records and information about the ads and the people selling them.

Because these are federal documents, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford is warning residents of his state that purchasing or selling fake cards violates state laws and will result in criminal penalties.

Ford also cautioned against posting pictures of vaccination cards online, as posting your vaccine card could give scammers an opportunity to use personal information and commit identity theft.

The AGs’ letter included an image of a blank vaccine card posting on OfferUp.com.

“Frankly every time I see someone post a card I cringe,” Ford said during a COVID update call. “We advise folks if you have a photo of your vaccination card take it down.”

For those who feel the urge to share they’ve been vaccinated, Ford suggested posting a picture of themselves getting the shot.

Legitimate vaccination cards are given by providers when they administer the vaccine free of charge. If a vaccine provider prompts a patient to purchase a vaccination card, that is a red flag that you are dealing with a scammer, warned Ford.

Identifying fake cards could pose a challenge, said Ford, due to the fact that scammers are using the official CDC logo.

Karissa Loper,  deputy bureau chief at Nevada’s Division of Public and Behavioral Health, said the state is tracking vaccinations using the state’s immunization registry and personal electronic records, meaning any health professional can look up digital records to confirm someone’s status.

Also signing the letter to OfferUp are the attorneys general of Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Jennifer Solis is a reporter for the Nevada Current, which first published this story. Rob Schofield also contributed.

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