Since the recent vaccine rollout, many businesses have decided to require proof of vaccination to enter their establishments. These mostly include bars, restaurants, and other places where crowds may gather. As mandatory COVID-19 vaccines become more widespread, many employers are asking what they can do if workers refuse. Some employers are firing workers who won’t take the vaccine and others are requiring unvaccinated employees to submit to weekly testing and take other safety precautions. Because of these consequences many individuals have been using other avenues to get around the vaccine mandate, while others are taking advantage of this growing black market.
One example is Tangtang Zhao, 34, of Chicago, who sold 125 authentic CDC vaccination cards to 11 different buyers for approximately $10 per card. Zhao was a licensed pharmacist in Illinois and was employed at Company 1, a pharmacy which distributed and administered COVID-19 vaccines at its physical locations nationwide. As required by the CDC, Company 1 provided a CDC Vaccination Record Card to each vaccine recipient. Zhao, who worked at Company 1 as a pharmacist during that time, obtained and subsequently offered authentic CDC vaccination cards for sale online. The indictment charges Zhao with 12 counts of theft of government property.
“We take seriously, and will vigorously investigate, any criminal offense that contributes to the distrust around vaccines and vaccination status,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting the American people from these offenses during this national emergency.”
“Knowingly selling COVID vaccination cards to unvaccinated individuals puts millions of Americans at risk of serious injury or death,” said Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office. “To put such a small price on the safety of our nation is not only an insult to those who are doing their part in the fight to stop COVID-19, but a federal crime with serious consequences.”
“Fraudsters who engage in such unlawful conduct undermine efforts to address the pandemic and profit at the public’s expense. The health and safety of the public is our top priority, and we encourage people to obtain vaccination cards from their administering medical providers.” said Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) – Chicago Region.“Stealing and selling COVID-19 vaccination cards is inexcusable and will not be tolerated,”
If you have questions regarding COVID-19 vaccination fraud, or have been charged in relation to COVID-19 vaccination fraud, please contact our office at (559) 233-5333.