A nurse in Michigan was charged last week after authorities say they caught her stealing and selling authentic COVID-19 vaccination cards.
“The first complaint charges Bethann Kierczak, 37, of Southgate with theft of government property and theft or embezzlement related to a healthcare benefit program,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a press release. “Kierczak, a registered nurse, was arrested this morning and will be appearing in federal court this afternoon on the charges.”
Kierczak, who works at a Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital, is accused of stealing the COVID-19 cards, and fraudulently marking them with vaccine lot numbers. The criminal complaint says she began her criminal activity in May, and continued it throughout the summer.
She allegedly sold the cards for $150 to $200.
Meanwhile, another Michigan man is in hot water with federal law enforcement for a similar alleged crime.
“The second complaint charges Rapheal Jarrell Smiley, 32, of Detroit with fraud involving department or agency seals, identity document fraud, and trafficking in counterfeit goods,” the DOJ’s press release said.
Smiley allegedly had fake COVID-19 vaccination cards imported to the United States from two sources in China, after which he distributed them locally. He was arrested when he advertised his scheme on Facebook and Instagram.
“These arrests reflect our deep commitment to protecting the health of our community and preventing this dangerous fraud from affecting our most vulnerable citizens,” Acting U.S. Attorney Saima S. Mohsin said. “Regardless of whether an individual choses [sic] to get vaccinated, we urge everyone to avoid turning to schemes like these to evade vaccination requirements. Importing these cards is a crime. Selling these cards is a crime. We will continue to investigate these crimes and prosecute them accordingly.”
The federal government continues to fight the importation and distribution of fake COVID-19 cards.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized thousands of them entering through a port in Cincinnati in September. As of mid-August, CBP in Memphis had confiscated more than 3,000 falsified COVID-19 vaccination cards.
According to the FBI’s website, “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.”
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