The war against the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a new twist as criminals are looking to cash in on the U.S. immunization push by selling forgeries of government-issued “vaccination record cards” that show people have been inoculated.
According to a report by CBS News on Saturday, April 10, hundreds of fraudsters are selling blank or forged versions of the COVID-19 cards over e-commerce sites including eBay, Etsy, and Shopify.
According to Saoud Khalifah, CEO of Fakespot, such sellers are hardly discreet.
“In January we started noticing Shopify stores selling fake vaccination cards; and that was really interesting because it introduced a new dynamic to society where people can counterfeit immunity and interplace it with a fake card,” Khalifah explained.
“It’s a new concept we haven’t seen before.”
Online retail sites have banned some bad actors, who then often reappear and sell fake COVID-19 cards under different names, according to Khalifah.
Shopify, a platform that allows retailers to create e-commerce sites, said it has acted swiftly against users of its technology who are trying to sell fraudulent vaccine cards.
Hawking bogus cards violate the company’s policies, the company clarified; while noting that it has been monitoring its platform for such schemes since February 2021.
The National Association of Attorneys General last week called on eBay, Shopify and Twitter; to stop people from selling or advertising fake CDC vaccine cards on their platforms.
To date, Shopify has terminated three stores it found to be selling fake or blank vaccination cards; or fraudulent vaccine stamps.
“If our search identifies a potentially prohibited product; our team swiftly reviews the store and product and takes appropriate action,” Vivek Narayanadas, Shopify’s vice president of legal; wrote in a letter to the National Association of Attorneys General.
Selling fake vaccination cards violates federal laws that prohibit the unauthorized use of an official government agency’s seal; including the one used by the CDC, the FBI said in a statement last month.