A Black Market in COVID-19 Vaccination Cards Was Inevitable
Given my warnings about the dawning age of vaccine passports, it shouldn’t have surprised me when my phone rang over the weekend and an old college buddy asked if I could hook him up with a forged COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. For the record, I can’t help with that, but plenty of other people can. Proliferating requirements for proof of vaccination by schools, employers, and governments have, inevitably, spawned a thriving industry in bogus documents for use by those who don’t want to get jabbed, or who resent being bossed around.
Back in February, when vaccines were young and we were all pretending to be innocent, the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned that posting photos online of vaccine cards could invite ID theft and, more convincingly, that people were “using the vaccination cards placed onto social media to forge vaccination cards and selling them for profit.”
Later, the FBI called out active markets in forged cards and arrested vendors of the documents. “The unauthorized use of an official government agency’s seal on such cards is a crime that may be punishable under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1017, and other federal laws,” warn the feds. “Penalties may include hefty fines and prison time.”
Note that black market vendors of bogus vaccine cards began appearing prior to New York City requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for entry to the city’s bars, restaurants, gyms, and concert venues. Demand for their wares can only grow now that other jurisdictions are floating similar requirements.
Even before local governments seriously considered requiring shots, employers and colleges began the trend. The federal government, Microsoft, Tyson Foods, and Walmart are among the larger employers mandating vaccination for some or all on-site workers. Tyson suffered COVID-19 closures at plants as early as spring of 2020, and fears further disruption from outbreaks among its workforce.
Colleges, too, worry about large numbers of people in close quarters in classrooms and dormitories. As of this week, The Chronicle of Higher Education counts 675 campuses requiring students and employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
But a lot of people are hesitant about the vaccine, or else just don’t like being told what to do. The CEO of Snap-On told the Wall Street Journal that his company rejected mandates for fear of angering workers. Instead, the tool company offers incentives for getting vaccinated, including time off. Other companies pay bonuses for vaccination rather than tick-off people on whom they rely—Walmart offers $150 for getting a shot, while steelmaker Cleveland-Cliffs sweetens the pot with four figures.
That’s creative thinking, because ticked-off people resistant to vaccines or just resentful of mandates fuel the black market for vaccination documents. A recent Associated Press investigation found bogus vaccination certificates for sale across social media and on dark web sites for as little as $25. The main customers to-date appear to be college students satisfying school
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