According to authorities, a woman in New Jersey who advertised herself through Instagram as anAntiVaxMomma sold hundreds ok fake COVID-19 vaccination certificates for $200 each to individuals in the New York City region who did not get their vaccinations, including those who worked in hospitals and nursing homes.
Anti-Vaccination Activist ‘Antivaxmomma’ Is Accused Of Selling Forged Vaccination Cards
After that, for an additional $250, a second fraudster would put the identity of the fictitious card buyer into a New York state vaccination database, which feeds programs that check for immunization status at locations where they are needed, such as concerts and sports events, according to authorities.
Jasmine Clifford of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with providing a fake document, illegal possession of a counterfeit instrument, and conspiring to defraud the government.
Authorities claim she has sold about 250 bogus vaccination cards in recent months.
On Tuesday morning, Clifford’s accused co-conspirator, Nadayza Barkley, of Bellport, Long Island, was arraigned in Manhattan criminal court on accusations of providing a fake instrument and conspiracy. She did not enter a plea during her hearing.
Prosecutors allege that while working at a Patchogue medical clinic, Barkley put at least ten names into the state’s vaccination database and got money for her labor from Clifford via the payment platforms Zelle and CashApp.Clifford and Barkley’s attorneys were not listed in online court documents, so they were unable to comment.
There were also charges filed against thirteen suspected card buyers, including a guy who has been accused of paying to have his name added into the database. Vaccines against COVID-19 are now accessible at no charge.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. named Facebook, which holds Instagram, as well as other tech companies, to crack down on vaccine card fraudsters, saying in a statement that “the stakes are too high to start tackling fake vaccination cards with whack-a-mole prosecutions.” Facebook, which owns Instagram, and other tech companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A message was sent to a Facebook official requesting a comment on the situation. Clifford, a self-described internet businesswoman, allegedly began selling fake Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination certificates via her AntiVaxMomma Instagram account in May, according to authorities.
Several weeks after becoming aware of the fraud, a New York state police investigator decided to test it by contacting Clifford to buy a bogus ID card and to have his name entered into the state vaccination database, according to prosecutors.
According to court documents, the investigator received a package in July comprising a CDC COVID-19 vaccination card that was marked with the name and date of birth he had provided, as well as a cellphone screenshot indicating that the information he had provided had been entered into the state database.