Lola refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but still wanted the CDC card saying she was vaccinated so she could lie to her employer. So she emailed me, thinking I could perhaps sell her a fake card.
"I want a card to keep my job if my employer follow others and make the vaccine mandatory. No I am not vaccinated. Believe I natural immunity and sting immune system," Lola wrote, when I asked if she had been vaccinated and why she wanted a fake card.
Lola contacted me because in April I reported on the availability of fake vaccine cards on online retailers such as Etsy by purchasing one myself. Since then, typically at least once a week someone has emailed me asking to buy one of the cards for themselves.
The answers give insight into why people are seeking out fake vaccine cards. At least in the responses given to Motherboard, the vast majority did not mention a legitimate medical issue being the reason they didn't want to get one of the several COVID-19 vaccines. Instead, especially recently, many of the responses focused on businesses and employers requiring proof of vaccination. Many colleges and other organizations are now asking for proof of vaccination as well, with some people cheating the system in response.
"I'm getting pressured from my employer to get vaccinated. Any information on any marketplaces that will offer them? All they need is for me to turn my card in," one person, called Chris, emailed Motherboard.
"NO I have not," someone called Matt said when asked whether they've gotten the vaccine and why they're looking for the card. "I am in the U.S. [and] they are making you use a card for NYC and California to go to gyms, restaurants, movies, etc, and I'm afraid they will here in the future."
Shelby, another person who contacted about the cards, wrote "My lively hood is depending on this unfortunately."
Beyond requirements from employers, some potential card buyers pointed to restrictions more generally.
"We haven’t needed it yet but it sounds like more restrictions are coming...and want to be prepared. We may need it soon just to get groceries…" Barbara wrote in an email.
Someone called Kerrigan said they haven't received the vaccine but still want the card, and Michelle said "I don't believe vaccine."
One person called Shane said they received the vaccine but still needed a card.
Some people have seemingly already obtained their own fake vaccine card through other means. Sonia emailed Motherboard looking for information on the cards; by the time Motherboard replied, she said "I found this needed card already. Thanks!!" When Motherboard asked how they sourced the card, Sonia said "I rather not explain."
That might be because buying or selling a document with a fake copy of a government agency's seal is a crime.
"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," a public service announcement published by the FBI in March reads. The announcement was called "If You Make or Buy a Fake COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, You Endanger Yourself and Those Around You, and You Are Breaking the Law."
Researchers at cybersecurity firm Check Point have seen Facebook anti-vaccination groups directing people to groups on Telegram which then sell fake vaccination passports and certificates, Fortune reported.
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