When dumb people try to fake a vax card

When we covered the story of the New Jersey woman who was caught selling fake CDC vaccination cards for $200 each, one question came to mind for me. Why would anyone lay out that kind of money to buy a card from her when the flimsy CDC cards are so ridiculously easy to fake? Well, clearly I spoke too soon and there was apparently a need for her services after all. It turns out that not everyone is cut out for the forgery game, and that was certainly true of an unnamed woman from Illinois who found herself in court in Hawaii this week. She used a fake vax card to get around Hawaii’s strict COVID travel and isolation rules, but authorities spotted a few things about it that just didn’t look right, prompting further investigation. For one thing, she managed to misspell “Moderna.”

A 24-year-old Illinois woman submitted a fake COVID-19 vaccination card to visit Hawaii with a glaring spelling error that led to her arrest: Moderna was spelled “Maderna,” according to court documents.

In order to bypass Hawaii’s 10-day traveler quarantine, she uploaded a vaccination card to the state’s Safe Travels program and arrived in Honolulu Aug. 23 on a Southwest Airlines flight, the documents said.

“Airport screeners found suspicious errors … such as Moderna was spelled wrong…

On top of misspelling the name of the pharmaceutical company, further inspection revealed that she was a resident of Illinois, but the card claimed she had been vaccinated in Delaware. There’s nothing illegal about that, but it was another red flag for the authorities looking into the case. When a special agent with the Hawaii attorney general’s investigation division sent an email to Delaware health officials it was confirmed that nobody by that name had been vaccinated.

In what may have been an attempt to further cover her tracks, the woman provided the name of the hotel she was supposedly going to be staying at, but she had no reservation number. A call to the hotel confirmed that she wasn’t staying there. In the end, the only way that law enforcement wound up catching her was via a selfie she had posted on Facebook showing “a distinctive tattoo on her left hip area.” The ink helped police identify her when she attempted to fly out on August 28th. She was arrested at the airport and put in jail until she was released on bail yesterday.

What’s curious about her court appearance is that she’s only been charged with two misdemeanor counts of violating Hawaii’s emergency COVID rules. Most of the other cases I’ve seen have involved the more serious charges of possession of a forged instrument and conspiracy.

As usual, we’re left with the same question in this case that’s arisen in all of the other immunity passport prosecutions we’ve come across. Sure, the authorities caught this one woman with a bogus CDC card. But she was only detected and investigated because she botched the forgery so badly. What about all of the other people out there who actually know how to spell “Moderna” properly? There was no automatic protection built into the system that tripped her up. It was just one airport screener who noticed the misspelling and decided to dig deeper. Had she spelled Moderna properly, she likely would have been waived through and continued her trip happily while still being unvaccinated.

This isn’t just happening in Hawaii. Keep in mind that some of the biggest and most popular immunity passport systems currently in use have been shown to be full of holes. A reporter who was signing up for the vaunted NYC Covid Safe App discovered that she was able to get the system to accept a scanned picture of the menu from a barbeque restaurant as proof of vaccination. But I suppose that if the media can keep convincing everyone that these vital health and safety protocols actually work, everyone will sleep better at night, right?