U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents say they have now seized more than 121 shipments containing more than 3,000 counterfeit COVID-19 vaccine cards this year alone.
In a release, the agency said agents have intercepted the shipments at the port of Memphis, Tennessee, all of them from China and bound for different U.S. cities. The manifest usually indicates the contents are paper or greeting cards. Inside were packs of 20, 51 or 100 of the counterfeit cards.
The officers say the cards have blanks for the recipient’s name and birthdate, the vaccine maker, lot number, and date and place the shot was given, as well as the logo of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the upper right corner. But the cards contain typographical errors, unfinished words and often misspellings, and they are always imported by a non-CDC or medical entity.
The agency says there is no attempt to hide or disguise what is inside the packages.
The discoveries come as more and more businesses and entertainment venues are requiring proof of vaccination to enter. New York City will this week begin phasing in its vaccine mandate for bars, restaurants and other venues.
The FBI has warned the public that buying, selling or using a counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination card is a crime. It can be categorized as the unauthorized use of an official government agency seal — such as the CDC or U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — and violators could face a fine and up to five years in prison.
In the agency release, Area Port Director of Memphis Michael Neipert said counterfeits are a waste of time and resources, considering vaccinations are free and available everywhere.
“If you do not wish to receive a vaccine, that is your decision. But don’t order a counterfeit, waste my officer’s time, break the law and misrepresent yourself,” he said.
On Sunday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on federal officials to crack down harder on the fake cards.
Some information for this report came from by the Associated Press.