New York State Department of Health: Thinking of Getting a Fraudulent COVID-19 Vaccination Card? You May Get Arrested
Department's Vaccination Complaint Investigations Team Honored by the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation for Ground-breaking Investigative Work that Resulted in Forged Vaccination Card Arrests and Prosecutions
ALBANY, N.Y. (December 20, 2022) – As the holiday season has kicked off a rise in COVID-19 cases and other respiratory illnesses, the New York State Department of Health is reminding New Yorkers that obtaining a fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination card not only doesn't help protect them and others from becoming seriously ill or hospitalized with COVID-19, it is a serious crime that carries significant penalties.
The Department's Vaccination Complaint Investigations Team was recently honored by the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation for its work alongside the New York State Police, New York County District Attorney's Office, and United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General in the investigation of numerous individuals for their role in a conspiracy that supplied forged COVID-19 vaccination cards to buyers through a popular social media platform.
To date, fifteen defendants have been arrested and charged with felony offenses as a result of the investigation, including thirteen individuals who purchased the forged cards for their own use or purchased the cards and paid for the fraudulent vaccination information to be entered into New York's immunization registry.
"While I thank the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation for recognizing the efforts of our Department's Vaccination Complaint Investigations Team and its partners in federal, state, and local law enforcement, this award should also serve as a warning to those who choose to engage in vaccine-related fraud that we will investigate and refer for prosecution anyone who creates, distributes, buys, or uses fraudulent proof of Covid-19 vaccinations," State Commissioner of Health Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. "Simply put, it is illegal for people to fabricate, buy, sell, or use fake vaccination records—criminal conduct that endangers not only their own health but also that of their friends, family, and coworkers. When the offender works in the healthcare system, which is too often the case, the conduct puts at risk the safety of patients who may be particularly vulnerable and whose wellbeing the system exists to protect."
Including the initial August 2021 case recently recognized by the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation, the Department's Vaccination Complaint Investigations Team has conducted investigations of vaccination fraud that have so far resulted in felony arrests in Albany, Bronx, Erie, Genesee, Monroe, New York, Oneida, Orange, Queens, Rensselaer, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester counties.
New Yorkers can report vaccine-related fraud by calling 833-VAX-SCAM (833-829-7226) or emailing STOPVAXFRAUD@health.ny.gov.
All New Yorkers 6 months and older should get vaccinated and get their booster dose when eligible. New Yorkers should continue to wear a mask where appropriate and follow all other health guidelines.
COVID vaccines are widely available at pharmacies, local health departments, clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers and other locations across the state. To schedule an appointment for a booster, New Yorkers should contact their local pharmacy, county health department, or healthcare provider; visit vaccines.gov; text their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby locations.
FDA fact sheets for recipients and caregivers on each vaccine are available: Pfizer-BioNTech/Cominarty; Moderna; Johnson & Johnson; Novavax.
The COVID-19 website has resources for the public, schools, adult care facilities and medical laboratories. More information about vaccine efficacy is available here.
For more information the Department of Health, please visit https://www.health.ny.gov/