Health

Covid US: Vaccine card black market emerges as New York and other cities bring in mandates

The increasing demand by local governments and businesses that people must show proof they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 to go to restaurants, gyms and enter businesses has created a black market for fake cards and some are selling for as much as $400. 

Most are being sold on Telegram, an encrypted site that is favored among people who don’t trust typical Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Twitter. 

On Telegram, people can buy vaccine cards that are approved by the CDC or NHS in Britain for between $25 and $400. 

Twitter and Facebook are controlling searches for it by directing anyone who searches ‘vaccine card’ to official government websites. 

Most are being sold on Telegram, an encrypted site that is favored among people who don’t trust typical Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Twitter.

But there is still growing concern over the number of sites where they are available. 

Some have been reported as for sale on Craigslist.  

Democratic cities across America are gradually adopting vaccine mandates for things like indoor dining, indoor workout classes and working for certain companies. 

New Orleans , Los Angeles and San Francisco are all bringing them in. 

New York City’s vaccine mandate for indoor dining and gyms will start being enforced on September 13. Businesses are expecting guidance on August 16 as to how to implement it.

This week, New York’s Attorney General Letitia James issued a warning that anyone caught using fake vaccine cards would face criminal charges.

‘As the Delta variant becomes more prominent, it is more important than ever for New Yorkers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

‘Not only do fake and fraudulently-completed vaccination cards violate federal and state laws and the public trust, but they also put the health of our communities at risk and potentially prolong this public health crisis. 

Norbert Chung and his son Trevor Chung were both arrested on Sunday, Aug. 8, at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport after arriving with fake vaccine cards to vacation

Todd Anderson, a bar owner in California, was arrested for selling cards like these earlier this year which he filled out 

Anderson, the owner of the Old Corner Saloon bar in Clements, California, now faces federal charges

‘I strongly urge New Yorkers to reject these fake vaccination cards and get the COVID-19 vaccine, so that we can move forward from this pandemic and return to normalcy as soon as possible.’  

A collection of Attorney Generals wrote a letter to the CEOs of Twitter, Shopify and eBay – where fake vaccine cards were being sold – asking them to crack down too. 

In New York City, there has been no guidance for businesses as to how to tell real vaccine card from a fake one and businesses have been asked to start checking from August 16. 

From September 13 onwards, they may be fined if they don’t ensure people are vaccinated before they enter the business.  

The genuine vaccine cards are merely pieces of cardboard, filled out with handwritten details of when a person got their first or second dose.

There is no official scannable code or seal on them.

‘I just don’t think that we’re gonna be the vaccination police. That’s up to the mayor’s office. 

In New York City, there has been no guidance for businesses as to how to tell real vaccine card from a fake one and businesses have been asked to start checking from August 16

‘It’s up to the health department to figure out, but it certainly shouldn’t be the burden of store owners, bars and gyms to be regulating that,’ Mary Josephine Generoso, manager at Pasticceria Rocco’s of Bay Ridge, told CBS. 

They have placed a sign in their window to say that they will still allow unvaccinated customers in, despite the Mayor’s order.

So far, there have been several cases across the country of people who have been fined or charged for trying to use a fake vaccine card. 

Todd Anderson, the owner of Old Corner Saloon in Clements, California, was arrested earlier this year after he was caught selling fake cards from his bar. 

A California father and son were also arrested after being caught in Hawaii trying to vacation with fake vaccine cards. 

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