As soon as we heard that various governments and private industries were working on a system of immunity passports that would allow vaccinated people to prove their immunity status, one thing was obvious. Such a document, be it hard-copy or digital, would be a valuable commodity for anyone who either couldn’t get vaccinated or was unwilling to. And that means that a new black market would be immediately born, as scammers figured out a way to profit from the system. Well, as we say about so many other things related to the pandemic, that didn’t take long. The Pittsburgh office of the FBI sent out a warning recently, telling people to be on guard against fake CDC vaccination cards that are already being sold on the black market. And as these passport systems continue to roll out around the nation and the world, they only expect the problem to get worse. (CBS Pittsburgh)
The FBI is on the lookout for scammers who are selling fake COVID-19 vaccine cards, a crime that can send someone to prison for five years.
Special Agent Scott Argiro from the FBI’s Pittsburgh office spoke with KDKA on Monday.
He says scammers are taking advantage of the opportunity to create these fake cards, which violate the same kind of laws as fake drivers licenses and fake passports.
“Yeah, scammers are making money. It hasn’t been set as a mandate to travel or to access places yet. We can only assume that it may come to that point. It’s not regulated by the FBI, that’s by lawmakers and Congress, but people are trying to get ahead of it,” Special Agent Argiro said.
We still don’t know exactly how broadly this system is going to expand. The White House told us last month that the Biden administration was working with private industries to develop such a system, only to have Jen Psaki turn around this week and say “The government is not now, nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential.” But she also didn’t indicate that they would try to stop state or municipal governments from requiring one, nor private businesses for that matter.
It’s not as if any effort has gone into stopping forgers from taking advantage of the system, at least in the early stages. I think I’ve mentioned this here before, but I’ve got one of those CDC cards. I can assure you that the average 8th-grader with a laptop and an inkjet printer could produce a very convincing replica of one of these passports and fill it out for someone in roughly fifteen minutes at the most. The cards would be a joke to crank out, and most people guarding access to whatever event you wanted to attend would be unlikely to catch the forgery because so few people have had to look at or deal with these cards yet.
It would be a little tougher to game the system in places where they are using digital apps like New York’s Excelsior Pass. But even there they are supposed to allow hard copy proof for those without cellphones or the know-how to use the app. And as far as the digital certificate goes, I’m sure nobody could ever hack their way into a government system that was hastily thrown together under what were deemed to be crisis conditions, right? Give me a break.
But even if every level of government in the country came out against immunity passports, the general consensus is that they can’t stop private businesses from requiring them, provided the prohibition is applied to everyone equally. And the airlines are already well on their way to ensuring you either have an immunity passport or can produce a negative COVID test before you’ll be allowed to board a plane.
I await the cries of horror from all of the people who wholeheartedly support mandates for things like face masks or mandatory vaccination orders. After all, we are constantly told that our individual freedoms do not extend to “the right to make anyone else sick.” But someone with a fake immunity passport could be knowingly walking into the stands at the next basketball game and infecting people right and left.
With all of that in mind, while I never encourage anyone to break the law, if you’re one of the people who are unable to obtain a vaccination or are not interested in doing so, this black market information is probably something you should be aware of. You know… just so you don’t wind up getting an illegal, forged card. We wouldn’t want that to happen.