Aug 31, 2021 - Politics & Policy

15 people charged over alleged fake COVID-19 vaccine card conspiracy in New York

Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination cards

CDC vaccination cards. Photo: Micah Green/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. on Tuesday filed charges against 15 individuals who were allegedly involved in a fake COVID-19 vaccination card conspiracy, the New York County district attorney's office announced.

Driving the news: Jasmine Clifford, 31, who allegedly sold nearly 250 forged COVID-19 vaccination cards over Instagram, was charged with offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, conspiracy in the fifth degree and criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree.

  • Clifford worked with Nadayza Barkley, 27, to wrongly enter at least 10 individuals into the New York State Immunization Information System database, prosecutors said.
  • Among the individuals who purchased the cards, 13 are believed to work in essential-employee settings, including hospitals. Those individuals were also charged, per the district attorney's office.

Between the lines: Clifford, a self-proclaimed entrepreneur with multiple online businesses, advertised forged COVID-19 vaccination cards through her Instagram account, @AntiVaxMomma, beginning in May, according Vance's office.

  • Clifford charged $200 for fake CDC vaccination cards, and for an additional $250 fee, Barkley would enter the individual’s name into the NYSIIS database as having received COVID-19 vaccinations, Vance's office said.

What they're saying: "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," Vance said.

  • “We need companies like Facebook to take action to prevent the fraud happening on their platforms," he added.

A Facebook spokesperson in an emailed statement said the company removed "Ms. Clifford’s account at the beginning of August for breaking our rules, and we will review any other accounts that might be doing the same thing."

  • "We prohibit anyone from buying or selling fake - or even genuine - COVID-19 vaccine cards," the spokesperson added.

Go deeper: Fake vaccine cards emerge in U.S., E.U. as vaccine mandates loom

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a comment from Facebook.

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