Online scammers have profited throughout the pandemic by selling fake face masks, treatments, and vaccines. Now, they’re selling vaccine cards.

The sudden surge of fake COVID-19 vaccines and forged vaccine cards online have overwhelmed social platforms dealing with scammers taking advantage of pandemic anxieties.
“Hundreds” of sellers have profited off of Americans’ fervent clamor for official vaccine cards, the New York Times reported Thursday. Despite policies banning the sale of fake cards on their platforms, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Etsy, and Shopify each were hosting sellers that purported to have vaccine cards for sale, the Times found.
The growing market for these cards comes as COVID-19 vaccinations are becoming more widely available across the United States. Proof of vaccination could become a requirement in coming months as a sort of “passport” to travel on airplanes or gain entry into large events and venues. But in some parts of the country, rollout has been slow. In other areas, anti-vaccine advocates refuse to be vaccinated, but want to be able to live their lives without pandemic-related restrictions.
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The amount of scammers offering falsified vaccine cards has “mushroomed in recent weeks,” according to the Times. Yet scams related to COVID-19 are not new phenomena these platforms have had to deal with. As COVID-19 cases were on the rise in the US in early 2020, sellers advertised unofficial KN95 masks and upcharged bottles of hand sanitizer. Scammers tapped into people’s worries and questions about the pandemic, promoting alleged treatments or precautionary measures. As vaccines were tested and approved, advertisements and posts flooded social media claiming to sell COVID-19 vaccines not yet available to the general public.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans have reported more than 430,000 coronavirus-related scams since the start of 2020. The result has been nearly $400 million lost.
The sharp increase in fake vaccine cards led 46 attorneys general in early April to demand that Twitter, Shopify and eBay take “immediate” action to stymie the trend. The joint letter called on the platforms to lay out to further monitor user content, and “promptly” take down posts selling fake cards.
“The false and deceptive marketing and sales of fake COVID vaccine cards threatens the health of our communities, slows progress in getting our residents protected from the virus, and are a violation of the laws of many states,” the attorneys general wrote to the companies’ CEOs.
Official US vaccine cards are emblazoned with the logo of the Center Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Legal experts told the Times that this means sellers could be breaking federal law by forging or falsifying such documents could break federal law.
The five companies named by in the Times article told the newspaper the sale of fake vaccine cards was a violation of their policies, and they were removing content advertising these items.
In a statement to Insider, eBay said it was taking “significant measures to block or quickly remove” fake cards. Shopify told Insider the company has been “proactively monitoring” such activity since February, and that “all stores that we identified for violating our policies were actioned swiftly.”
Facebook and Twitter did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.