We recently looked at a report from the FBI warning of black market fraudsters selling fake immunity passports, particularly in the Pittsburgh area. The speed with which this illegal activity arose and the easy path the forgers had to follow to produce the bogus documents should have been both obvious and predictable. But it turns out that it’s not just Pittsburgh where these activities are taking place. The market for vaccination cards has spread to the online world. And if you don’t want to pay for someone to craft a personalized card for you, you can find do-it-yourself instructions to make one for yourself. (NY Post)
A black market in fake vaccination record cards is reaching epidemic proportions online.
Fraudsters have been hawking knock-offs of the three-by-four-inch cards on retail sites including eBay, Etsy and Shopify, as well as on the social media sites Facebook and TikTok, the New York Times reported this week.
The Post, meanwhile, has found dozens of online DIY guides for printing fake vaccination cards at home.
The Post did better than me at finding online do-it[yourself guides to making one of these cards. I spent a fair bit of time searching on YouTube this morning using a variety of search phrases and all I could find were reports of and warnings against fake cards or posting pictures of your card online. (Oddly enough, nearly half of the reports I skimmed through included pictures of cards.) That’s not to say such guides aren’t out there. I’m sure there are plenty of them on the dark web, but I wouldn’t know how to access those sites if my life depended on it.
Even if you’re having trouble finding a video, there are still online guides such as this one with most of the information you would need. The piece is written as a warning against fake cards, but in the process, it tells you everything you would need to know, including the type of stock paper to purchase. They also point out that there’s one government health agency website (I won’t link to it here) where they have a .pdf file of a blank card ready for download, complete with printing instructions. The site is intended for vaccination pod administrators, but it’s open to the public so pretty much anyone can make use of it.
Fake cards are available for sale in both American and Russian varieties. The price for a completed card ranges from $100 to $200. Fake COVID test results are available for as little as $25 and you can fill in the date as needed on each one. You can even order vials of vaccine (that are almost certainly fake) for $500. In other words, the government’s response to this phase of the pandemic has created a thriving black market online.
The question still nagging at the back of my mind is how widespread this phenomenon will be and how much of an impact it will have on both the public’s health and their confidence in the government’s handling of the pandemic. If the word gets out about these fake immunity passports, why would you go to a public event with a bunch of other people and have any confidence in everyone there being safe to be around? And if the system can’t be made relatively secure, why put it in place to begin with?
In reality, this seems to be an area that falls beyond the government’s ability to fix without overly impeding the basic freedoms of the people. What’s going to save us and return the world to normal is arriving at a point where enough people are immune – either through vaccination or by surviving the disease – that we won’t see any massive breakouts like we did last year. At that point, people should be able to return to their normal lives and take the same precautions we already did for illnesses like the seasonal flu. And we need to get back to that condition soon because I can assure you that much of the country isn’t going to tolerate all of these restrictions much longer.