Los Angeles has imposed one of the strictest, most draconian immunity passport systems in the country. Proof of vaccination is required to gain entry to bars, restaurants, gyms, hair salons, and just about any other non-essential business with an indoor area of operation. And you probably know what that means, right? As we’ve been discussing here since the first moment that talk of the use of immunity passports entered the public debate, the black market for fake vaccination cards is “skyrocketing,” as described by CBS Los Angeles, where they took a deep dive into the subject this week. As it turns out, commoners and the glitterati alike have been found using fake cards. They’re still relatively cheap and at least most of the time, people using them are not being caught.
With proof of COVID-19 vaccination now required at Los Angeles bars, breweries and other businesses, a CBS2 investigation has uncovered a growing black market for fake or stolen vaccine cards.
CBS2’s David Goldstein found vaccine cards are being advertised on sites that promise a fast process and affordable prices. Some sites even claim that the cards are registered with the state, with one seller promising “once you scan the registered cards, your information will show up that you took the shot.” Another seller claimed they were working with medical doctors, while another even called himself a doctor.
With city and federal government vaccine mandates going into effect, experts say the market for fake or stolen CDC cards has shot up because some people don’t want to get vaccinated.
I’ll confess that the idea of selling stolen vax cards that were taken from someone who legitimately received the shots hadn’t crossed my mind. The name on the card wouldn’t match your other ID, so even a moderately competent bouncer should be able to spot them. Of course, if you alter the card to put your name on it, then it’s not much different than a fake, I suppose.
While it’s true that these fakes are showing up all over the country (and around the world, for that matter), it certainly does seem as if California is one of the hotspots where a lot of these stories originate. CBS notes that Evander Kane of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks was caught using a fake card to meet the team’s vaccination requirement and was suspended from the league for three weeks. (He was apparently not arrested or fined by law enforcement.) One FBI agent CBS spoke to said that since the cards don’t have any type of security seal on them, verification “can be difficult.”
This story is only the latest one out of California, however. We recently learned that some Hollywood stars were using fake vax cards to get into the Tonys afterparties. Back in May, one California bar owner was selling fake cards from behind the bar for $20 to any prospective patrons who didn’t have one of their own.
The government has yet to take any steps to make it more difficult to forge a fake vax card or easier to detect someone using one. I suppose it was somewhat understandable in the rush to get some sort of system in place when the vaccines first became available, but they’ve been out there for quite a while now. Either they simply don’t care enough about it to do anything or they are planning on the vaccination passport schemes being “temporary” so they don’t see it as being worth the bother and expense. Neither explanation is a very good one. The government rushed into this project without thinking it through and they have ignored the complaints about the intrusive and improper nature of such a system from those who choose not to comply.
Meanwhile, the sale of fakes continues apace. And even the most “advanced” technical systems for verifying someone immune’s status have been laughably easy to defeat. Just recall that the vaunted New York City vaccine passport system was fooled by a reporter who got it to accept the menu from a BBQ restaurant as proof of vaccination.
The people most likely to have real cards are the ones most willing to obey the law and comply with orders from the government. The others are clearly having little to no trouble getting realistic-looking fakes. So while municipal governments like that of Los Angeles are crowing about how all of the bars and gyms are safe because of the restrictions they’ve put in place, visitors should be aware that a certain percentage of their fellow patrons are probably unvaccinated but “undercover.” Sleep well, campers.