09:18 GMT18 April 2021
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    Vaccination cards are issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as written proof that individuals have been inoculated against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the novel coronavirus.

    Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro this week warned the public that there is already a “dangerous” market of people selling fake vaccination cards online.

    “We’re seeing a huge market for these false cards online,” Shapiro told The New York Times. “This is a dangerous practice that undermines public health.”

    Shapiro’s statement comes after 45 state attorney generals last week called on online platforms like Twitter, Shopify and eBay to crack down on the sale of false vaccine cards.

    “We want to see them stop immediately,” Shapiro said, referring to the entities selling fake cards. “And we want to see the companies take serious and immediate action.”

    Saoud Khalifah, the founder of Fakespot, a company that offers capabilities to detect fake listings and reviews online, told The Times that potentially thousands of fake vaccination cards are being sold online.

    The fake cards, selling for $20 to $60 each, are widespread on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Shopify, eBay and Etsy.

    “We found hundreds of online stores selling the cards, potentially thousands were sold,” Khalifah explained. 

    Many people buy fake vaccine cards to trick pharmacists into providing them a vaccine, Khalifah explained. Some people enter a false date for a first inoculation on the card so that they can get a second dose quicker, since some vaccination sites give priority to people who are due to receive their second jabs.

    In a statement to the Times, the CDC confirmed that it is “aware of cases of fraud regarding counterfeit COVID-19 vaccine cards,” and warned people against sharing images of their vaccine cards on social media.

    The FBI is also urging people not to post photos of their vaccine cards to social media websites, warning that “personal information could be stolen to commit fraud.”

    According to an FBI statement, the unauthorized use of an official government’s seal, such as the CDC  seal, is a crime.

    “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 FBI notes.

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    vaccine, coronavirus, COVID-19
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