Journalist buys fake COVID-19

Image: Canva

Journalist buys fake COVID-19 vaccine card for R217 in the US

A journalist from the US recently bought a fake COVID-19 vaccine card from the online retailer Etsy.

Journalist buys fake COVID-19

Image: Canva

VICE‘s Joseph Cox recently looked into just how easy it would be to get a fake COVID-19 vaccine card, and it seems it was just a matter of looking on the internet.

Fake COVID-19 vaccine cards

According to VICE and 2OceansVibe, he received his first dose of the Moderna vaccine in Los Angeles on 18 March, and the second dose at the same place a few weeks later, according to the “COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card” in his pocket.

After buying the card from the online retailer Etsy, the shop said it offered the card as a way to get your vaccination details on a more long-lasting, convenient sheet of wallet-sized metal rather than the thin cardboard copies healthcare facilities give out. The card reads:

“Please keep this duplicate record card. It contains your supplied medical information regarding the COVID-19 vaccines that you received.”

“The listing said that the seller required a photograph of my real vaccination card to process the order,” Cox writes. “But I just sent the seller a message with the information I wanted on the card instead. It cost $15 (R217) plus shipping.”

The seller went on to print the incorrect information without asking any questions, which means that the card is ultimately a fake.

Image: Vice

Verifying vaccine cards

Cox said that this can make it difficult for verification purposes.

“The purchase highlights the difficulties states and businesses may face when reopening and verifying whether people have been vaccinated or not before granting entry or providing certain services, especially if they rely on the CDC-stamped vaccination cards,” Cox wrote.

An Esty spokesperson wrote in a statement that “fraudulent COVID-19 vaccine documents are strictly prohibited on Etsy. We actively monitor our marketplace for these types of listings and use both manual and automatic controls to monitor our site, and we also look to our community of users to report problematic listings via our site-wide flagging tool.”

Etsy said the listing was removed within an hour of it being created, and that the company uses manual and automated methods for monitoring the site for violating content.

Breaking the law

The FBI also issued a public service announcement saying that if you make or buy a fake COVID-19 vaccination record card, you endanger yourself and those around you, and you are breaking the law.

“The unauthorized use of an official government agency’s seal (such as HHS or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)) is a crime,” the announcement continues. In this case, the card doesn’t include the CDC seal itself.

Cox says that the card, although bearing similarities, is simply not identical to a genuine one and is made of a different material.

Meanwhile in South Africa…

Meanwhile, in South Africa, cyber threat analysis firm Check Point Research (CPR) told The Saturday Star that forged COVID-19 test results and fake “vaccine passport” certificates were being offered across chat rooms on the Dark Web from between R350 to R3 500 to people seeking to leave the country by air or land.

Advertisements for COVID-19 vaccines – AstraZeneca, Sputnik, Sinopharm and Johnson and Johnson – have also spiked by more than 300% in the past three months, with prices ranging between R7 000 and R14 500 per dose, according to CPR.