15 people charged over alleged fake COVID-19 vaccine card conspiracy in New York

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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. on Tuesday filed charges against 15 individuals who were allegedly involved in a fake COVID-19 vaccination card conspiracy, the New York County district attorney's office announced.

Driving the news: Jasmine Clifford, 31, who allegedly sold nearly 250 forged COVID-19 vaccination cards over Instagram, was charged with offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, conspiracy in the fifth degree and criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree.

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  • Clifford worked with Nadayza Barkley, 27, to wrongly enter at least 10 individuals into the New York State Immunization Information System database, prosecutors said.

  • Among the individuals who purchased the cards, 13 are believed to work in essential-employee settings, including hospitals. Those individuals were also charged, per the district attorney's office.

Between the lines: Clifford, a self-proclaimed entrepreneur with multiple online businesses, advertised forged COVID-19 vaccination cards through her Instagram account, @AntiVaxMomma, beginning in May, according Vance's office.

  • Clifford charged $200 for fake CDC vaccination cards, and for an additional $250 fee, Barkley would enter the individual’s name into the NYSIIS database as having received COVID-19 vaccinations, Vance's office said.

What they're saying: "We will continue to safeguard public health in New York with proactive investigations like these, but the stakes are too high to tackle fake vaccination cards with whack-a-mole prosecutions," Vance said.

  • “We need companies like Facebook to take action to prevent the fraud happening on their platforms," he added.

  • Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper: Fake vaccine cards emerge in U.S., E.U. as vaccine mandates loom

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