Manhattan DA Charges 15 in Counterfeit Vaccine Card Scheme (Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images)
By Charles Kim | Tuesday, 31 August 2021 05:00 PM
A New Jersey woman is one of 15 charged today by the Manhattan District Attorney with conducting a counterfeit vaccine card scheme online.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced Tuesday that Lyndhurst, New Jersey, resident Jasmine Clifford, 31, sold approximately 250 forged COVID-19 vaccination cards through the online Instagram platform, and worked with fellow defendant Nadayza Barkley, 27, to fraudulently enter the names of 10 customers into the New York State Immunization System database as being vaccinated against the illness.
According to the press release, the pair were charged with offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, and conspiracy in the fifth degree relating to the scheme.
Clifford also faces a charge of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree.
The additional 13 individuals charged were “frontline” and “essential” workers in hospitals and nursing homes, according to the release.
“We will continue to safeguard public health in New York with proactive investigations like these, but the stakes are too high to tackle fake vaccination cards with whack-a-mole prosecutions,” District Attorney Vance said in the release. “We need companies like Facebook to take action to prevent the fraud happening on their platforms. Making, selling, and purchasing forged vaccination cards are serious crimes with serious public safety consequences. This investigation is ongoing. If you are aware of anyone selling fake vaccination cards, please call my Office’s Financial Frauds Bureau at (212) 335-8900.”
According to the release, the scheme started in May when Clifford, who described herself as an entrepreneur with several online businesses, advertised forged Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination cards through her Instagram account @AntiVaxMomma.
Clifford allegedly charged customers $200 for the bogus cards, taking payments through the online payment apps of Zelle and CashApp.
For an additional $250 each, Clifford turned to Barkley, who works at a Patchogue, New York, medical clinic, to enter the names into the state database as being fully vaccinated.
The state database sends information to the New York State Excelsior Pass, which issues passes to individuals that can be used by businesses and other entities to determine a person’s vaccine status to comply with state and New York City restrictions on activities.
“Participating businesses and venues can scan and validate your pass to ensure you meet any COVID-19 vaccination or testing requirements for entry,” the state’s website about the program said. “Along with your Pass, you’ll be asked to show a photo ID that shows your name and birth date to verify that the Pass belongs to you. Adults may hold passes for accompanying minors. No information is ever shared or stored – and your personal health information is protected at all times.”
According to the release, 10 of the 13 additional people charged Tuesday took this extra step and face a charge of criminal possession of a forged instrument, and one of the people is also charged with offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.
Newsmax emailed the CDC to ask how large a problem this is nationwide but did not receive a response.