As soon as we learned that the CDC was issuing vaccination cards to people who were fully vaccinated, I began warning people that this was going to turn into a thriving black market. The temptation would be too great for scammers looking to make a buck and people who were ineligible for vaccination in the early days would be tempted to buy one if it helped them get back out in public faster. In no time at all, fake CDC cards were already showing up for sale online, sometimes for as little as $25. Now it appears that the owners of bars or restaurants may be tempted to get in on the action. One tavern owner in California was recently arrested after selling fake CDC vax cards to undercover agents. Now he’s facing serious federal charges and the poor schmuck was only getting twenty bucks apiece for them. (NY Post)
Move over fake IDs. The new illicit social currency is fake COVID-19 vaccination cards, and a California bar owner has been busted for selling them.
Todd Anderson, the owner of the Old Corner Saloon in Clements, sold the fake cards to undercover agents multiple times, prosecutors said.
The phony pandemic passports allegedly fetched only $20, according to officials.
You have to wonder what drove Todd Anderson to do this. His business was no doubt shuttered for a very long time by Gavin Newsom, so perhaps he was really hard up for money. The other possibility is that there are still severe restrictions on who can go into bars and how many people can be served at a time. Perhaps Anderson was trying to come up with a way to allow unvaccinated patrons into his joint to boost business. Perhaps a combination of the two. (Not excusing his actions here… just trying to take a stab at guessing his motivation.)
As I pointed out here as soon as I saw one of these CDC vax cards, they are ridiculously easy to counterfeit. Anyone with a scanner or camera phone and a printer with some fairly heavy paper could do it in a few minutes. And if you somehow can’t figure it out, there are helpful online video tutorials out there to show you how. When Todd Anderson was arrested he was found to have blank vaccination cards, a laminating machine, and a supply of laminate. That was all it took to go into business.
Anderson is facing charges of identity theft, forging government documents, and falsifying medical records. Those are some serious crimes that carry jail time and hefty fines. (Particularly if the government is trying to make an example of you.) The bar owner will also probably lose his liquor license and his business.
Here’s the issue for both the public and the government to consider. Todd Anderson was just one guy who happened to get caught. How many others are out there who haven’t been detected and how many people are simply making their own as I described above? These new apps for your phone that allow you to participate in the various passport programs all allow you to take a picture of your CDC vax card and upload it into the system. You can do it in a matter of minutes. So how many people with one of those big, happy-looking green checkmarks on their phone screen are totally unvaccinated and walking around at the next party you go to? And if that’s the case, why are we bothering with all of this to begin with?