Some people see that little vaccination card that comes with that first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as a badge of honor. Others see it as an opportunity to make money through a scam gaining popularity online.
As some venues and destinations start requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination, the official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cards given to those who get immunized have become a hot commodity on the black market.
“Hearing that people are selling fake vaccine cards is really surprising," said Maura Deignan, a San Diego resident.
Deignan got her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine last week and couldn’t be more excited.
“It was really important for me to get the vaccine because I want to be able to protect myself so I can be able to go out again," said Deignan.
James Whorrall, on the other hand, isn’t too sure about wanting to get the vaccine for himself.
“Not yet, it’s too soon,” said Whorall.
And there are others who, instead, are opting to pay to get a fake vaccination card without actually getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
There is a market for fake vaccine cards online. Scammers are selling some of them for hundreds of dollars.
“The implications of not being vaccinated but acting like you are are detrimental to the individual but to the community as well," said Dr. Paul Shcalch Lepe.
Listings for fraudulent cards have appeared on major online platforms such as Twitter, Instagram,and eBay.
“If there are people out there pretending to be vaccinated then the virus is going to continue propagating and we’re never going to be done with this pandemic,” Lepe said.
On April 1, the National Association of Attorneys General sent a letter to the CEOs of Twitter, eBay and Shopify asking them to prevent the selling of the fake vaccination cards on their websites.
The FBI also issued a special alert warning the public of making or buying fake vaccination cards.
"If you did not receive the vaccine, do not buy fake vaccine cards, do not make your own vaccine cards, and do not fill-in blank vaccination record cards with false information," the warning from the FBI said. "By misrepresenting yourself as vaccinated when entering schools, mass transit, workplaces, gyms, or places of worship, you put yourself and others around you at risk of contracting COVID-19."
The FBI has also advised against posting photos of your vaccine card on social media, saying personal information from that card could be lifted by scammers trying to make fake cards and commit fraud.
“It’s better for everyone if we can get the vaccine, the actual vaccine, and not just pretend that we got it,” said Deignan.
Not only is it for the greater good of our community, but forging a vaccination card is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
Read more on why you shouldn't post photos online of your vaccination card here.