U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Memphis is battling a new form of contraband: fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers (CBPOs) working at the port of Memphis flagged a suspicious shipment coming from Shenzhen, China en route to the central business district of New Orleans,” a CPB press release said. “It was described in the manifest as ‘PAPER CARD, PAPER’ and CBPOs already knew what it was. It was the 15th such shipment of the night, though all to different cities. Inside were 51 low quality, counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards.”
According to the press release, the cards have blank spaces for the name, birthday, vaccine maker, and other information that is printed on a normal vaccine card.
The law enforcement entity has been easily spotting the fraudulent cards – seizing more than 3,000 so far – because they claim the manufacturers aren’t working very hard to conceal them, and they have numerous typos that make them readily identifiable.
The practice of fabricating COVID-19 cards is becoming more popular.
A California woman was the first person arrested for such activity in mid-July.
“Juli A. Mazi, 41, of Napa, is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a press release.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned in March that it is a crime to counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards.
“By misrepresenting yourself as vaccinated when entering schools, mass transit, workplaces, gyms, or places of worship, you put yourself and others around you at risk of contracting COVID-19. Additionally, 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, and may be punishable under Title 18 United States Code, Section 1017, and other applicable laws,” the organization said.
Michael Neipert, Area Port Director of Memphis (pictured above) added, “These vaccinations are free and available everywhere. If you do not wish to receive a vaccine, that is your decision. But don’t order a counterfeit, waste my officer’s time, break the law, and misrepresent yourself.”
“CBP Officers at the Area Port of Memphis remain committed to stopping counterfeit smuggling and helping to protect our communities. But just know that when you order a fake vaxx card, you are using my officers time as they also seize fentanyl and methamphetamines,” he said.
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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Area Port Director Michael Neipert” by Customs and Border Patrol.