A New Jersey woman using the @AntiVaxMomma Instagram account was accused on Tuesday of conspiring to sell hundreds of fake coronavirus vaccine cards in Manhattan via the social media platform.
The 31-year-old woman, named Jasmine Clifford, was charged in Manhattan criminal court with selling about 250 fake cards on Instagram. Prosecutors said he and 27-year-old Nadayza Barkley, who works at a medical clinic in Patchogue, New York, worked with at least 10 people to fraudulently break into New York’s vaccine database. Miss Barkley was also charged with conspiracy.
A total of fifteen people were charged, including 13 people who bought the cards – some of them working in hospitals and nursing homes – and each charged with one crime.
Miss Clifford was expected to be charged with two crimes and a misdemeanor, and Miss Barkley was expected to be charged with a felony and misdemeanor. His lawyers could not be immediately reached for comment.
Since May, Ms Clifford, who describes herself as an online entrepreneur and operator of multiple businesses, began advertising fake vaccination cards through her Instagram account, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said he charged $200 for the fake cards. For $250 more, Ms. Barkley would enter a customer’s name into New York’s official vaccine database, allowing the state to get her vaccines. Excelsior Pass, a digital vaccination certificate.
Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has issued a statement urging Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, to end the fraud.
“We will continue to protect public health in New York with proactive investigations like this, but the risks are too high to fight mole prosecutions with fake vaccination cards,” said Mr. Vance. “Making, selling and buying fake vaccine cards are serious crimes with serious public safety consequences.”
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A popular TikTok user @Tizzyent highlighted Ms. Clifford’s plan in a viral video this month. A spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney’s office said the video did not lead to charges against Ms. Clifford and others, and court documents show that Ms. Clifford has been under investigation since June.
The accusations against Ms Clifford and her collaborators underscore a black market industry for counterfeit vaccination cards that have surfaced this year.
only about 52 percent of the country is fully vaccinated and one A significant minority of Americans are skeptical fake cards from vaccines are offered on messaging services such as Telegram and WhatsApp, as well as social media platforms such as Instagram. Counterfeit products found to be on sale Amazon and Etsy.
US Customs and Border Protection said This month, it reported that its officers in Memphis had seized more than 3,000 counterfeit cards in 2021 so far. Earlier this year, the National Association of Attorneys General sent a letter. letter Twitter has urged the administrators of Shopify and eBay to take immediate action to stop the sale of counterfeit cards on their websites.
Understand Vaccine and Mask Instructions in the USA
- vaccination rules. On August 23, the Food and Drug Administration Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine granted full approval It paves the way for people aged 16 and over to increase their tenure in both the public and private sectors. became private companies increasingly mandatory vaccines for employees. Such powers legally allowed and upheld in court appeals.
- Mask rules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July suggested The fact that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in public in areas with outbreaks was a reversal of the guidance it presented in May. See where the CDC guidance applies, and where states created their own mask policies. The battle over masks has become contentious in some states. local leaders defying state bans.
- Colleges and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities require their students to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Nearly all in states that voted for President Biden.
- Schools. Both of them California and New York City imposes vaccination requirements for education personnel. A survey published in August found that many American parents with school-age children are against compulsory vaccinations for students, but More support for mask missions for unvaccinated students, teachers and staff.
- Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and major healthcare systems require their employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19. He speaks of increased caseloads fueled by the delta variant and stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities, even within the workforce.
- New York City. Proof of vaccination is required for workers and customers. indoor dining, gyms, performances and other indoor situations, but the app doesn’t start until September 13. Teachers and other education workers The city’s large school system will need at least one dose of the vaccine by September 27, with no weekly testing option. City hospital staff they should also be vaccinated or undergo weekly tests. Similar rules apply to New York State employees.
- at the federal level. The Pentagon has announced that it will try to make coronavirus vaccines mandatory for the country. 1.3 million active-duty soldiers No later than mid-September. President Biden announced all civilian federal employees would have to get vaccinated against coronavirus or subject to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most trips.
earlier this month, New York announced Workers and customers in indoor restaurant dining halls, gyms, and performances would begin to require at least one dose of the vaccine.
Last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has more than 300,000 employees. would have to be vaccinated or pass weekly testsasking some push back One of the unions that are in contact with the mayor for the details of the application.
Law enforcement agencies did their best to deter the fraud. Earlier this month, a Chicago-based pharmacist, arrested by federal agents He was accused of selling 125 vaccine cards on eBay to 11 different buyers. last monthA naturopathic doctor in California has been accused of a scheme to falsely record that his clients were receiving the Moderna vaccine.
TikTok user @Tizzyent, who made a video this month about Ms. Clifford’s plan, is an independent filmmaker in Florida and asked to be identified only by her first name, Michael, as she has received threats for her videos in the past. In an interview, he said he has been fighting misinformation on social platforms for over a year.
“It’s just something that consists of a pet pee,” he said.
He said he had been warned about a number of people selling fake vaccination cards on social media, but the @AntiVaxMomma scheme, which appeared to recruit collaborators when he stumbled upon one of his posts, seemed particularly advanced.
“A good friend of mine passed away from Covid a few days ago,” he said. “When I see someone suggesting such a workaround that puts everyone at risk, it’s horrifying to me.”
Chelsea Rose Marcius contributing reporting.