Some folks who refuse to be vaccinated but still want to enjoy the advantages of getting the shots—that is, aside from actually being protected against COVID—are teaming up with helpful criminals in order to fool the rest of us.
U.S.-Israeli cyber security firm Check Point Software Technologies says that as more schools, businesses, and entire nations demand proof of vaccination for entry, duplicitous anti-vaxxers are finding equally duplicitous grifters to sell them fake vaccination cards through offers on apps like Telegram and WhatsApp. Demand for phony proof of vax has spiked 257 percent since March 2021.
“For those people who are adamant against being vaccinated they’re finding opportunities in not being limited in what they can do while still not getting vaccinated through buying these fake vaccination certificates,” Maya Levine, an Oakland-based Check Point technical marketing engineer, tells ABC 7. “Especially in the U.S. where we only have a physical paper copy it’s not that hard to forge.”
Since plenty of travel destinations have even stricter vaccination policies than any state in the U.S., the fakes are available internationally—and using cryptocurrencies helps crooks on both sides of the transactions avoid detection.
“There are whole countries that are saying you can’t go indoors anywhere unless you show proof of vaccination,” Levine tells the station. “Bitcoin is a lot easier to get away with these crimes.”
Unfortunately, no one’s come up with a standard for telling the real thing from the phonies just yet, at least in the United States. California State University East Bay tells ABC 7 they’re still figuring out how they’ll review student and employee vax cards, while California startup Neverland says it’s looking for any official guidance it can get.
Such guidance is currently lacking.
In a statement earlier this year, however, the FBI advised the innocent not to post photos of their vaccination cards online, and informed the not-so-innocent that flashing a fake is a federal offense right off the bat because it involves the unauthorized use of official government agency seals, which is “punishable under Title 18 United States Code, Section 1017, and other applicable laws.”
“If you did not receive the vaccine,” the Feds warn, “do not buy fake vaccine cards, do not make your own vaccine cards, and do not fill-in blank vaccination record cards with false information.”
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