Frontline healthcare workers buying fake vaccine cards to save their jobs in New York

A small group of anti-vaccination protesters gather outside of New York-Presbyterian Hospital on September 1, 2021 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/TNS)

Tanasia Kenney

The Charlotte Observer

Two women are facing criminal charges after allegedly peddling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards on Instagram, according to New York authorities.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday announced charges against 31-year-old Jasmine Clifford of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, and 27-year-old Nadayza Barkley of Bellport, New York, in connection to the bogus card scam, according to a news release. Both are charged with first degree offering a false instrument for filing and fifth degree conspiracy.

Thirteen people who bought the cards — all believed to work in front-line and essential-employee settings, including hospitals and nursing homes — also face charges.

“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,” District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement. “We need companies like Facebook to take action to prevent the fraud happening on their platforms.”

Prosecutors said Clifford sold approximately 250 forged COVID-19 vaccination cards via her Instagram account under the screen name “@AntiVaxMomma.” She started the “business” in May and offered buyers the falsified cards for $200 apiece, according to court documents.

She typically received payment via digital wallet apps such as Zelle and CashApp.

For an extra $250, Clifford would have Barkley — a medical clinic employee — hack the state’s NYSIIS COVID-19 immunization database and add the buyers’ information to make it appear as if they had gotten the jab, the district attorney’s office said.

The 13 people accused of purchasing fake cards from the pair are charged with second degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. Clifford faces the same charge, according to prosecutors.

“Making, selling, and purchasing forged vaccination cards are serious crimes with serious public safety consequences,” Vance said in a statement.

The case remains under investigation.

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