The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday that a 34-year-old licensed pharmacist was arrested in Chicago after he was caught up selling on eBay official CDC vaccination cards, ABC 7 Chicago reports.
Tangtang Zhao was arrested and slapped with 12 federal counts for theft of government property after allegedly selling 100 Covid vaccination cards he stole from his place of work, for around $10 each.
Special agent Emmerson Buie Jr. of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office underscored that selling vaccination cards for such a small price is not only a federal crime with serious consequences, but an insult for people fighting against Covid-19 and puts millions of unvaccinated Americans at risk of serious injury or death.
The criminal complaint against Zhao shows he worked for a vaccine distributing entity that administered jabs to the public and handing out cards to recipients documenting their vaccination required by the CDC. He stole at least 125 blank cards he later sold on eBay, earning over $1,200.
Zhao now faces up to 120 years behind bars if convicted for the 12 counts of stealing government property he was accused for, which is a federal offense, since each charge is carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years.
He’s not the only one in legal hot water in the US over vaccine cards since two Hawaii men were arrested last week trying to avoid the state’s mandatory quarantine period by using phony vaccine cards, and a California doctor was arrested last month for selling falsified vaccination documents.
Meanwhile, concerns are also increasing over fake Covid-19 vaccination cards that are increasingly offered on apps like Telegram and WhatsApp, Check Point Software Technologies says, and are often for sale in Bitcoin since the digital currency is difficult to trace.
The company’s cybersecurity expert Maya Levine warns that buying these fake vaccination certificates is getting easier for people adamant against being vaccinated since there’s only physical paper copy cards issued on the US that are not that hard to forge.
The problem is worsened with situations like that on a mass vaccination site in San Mateo, where they ran out of CDC cards and were handing out photocopies instead.