13 people working in ‘essential employee settings’ charged with scam over fake COVID vaccine card

Thirteen people in New York working in “essential employee cadre” were charged on Tuesday for allegedly purchasing fake COVID-19 vaccine cards.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. announced the charges against the 13 people, along with two others who allegedly sold the fake COVID-19 vaccine cards.

According to a press release from the district attorney’s office, 31-year-old Jasmine Clifford sold approximately “250 fake COVID-19 vaccination cards on Instagram.”

Clifford also worked with Nadayza Barkley, 27, who falsely enrolled at least 10 people in the New York State Immunization Information System (“NYSIIS”) database, according to the press release. .

The district attorney’s office said that beginning in May 2021, Clifford, “a self-proclaimed entrepreneur with multiple online businesses,” began advertising on fake COVID-19 vaccine cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States on his Instagram account. .

Fifteen people have been charged in New York after they were allegedly involved in a fake COVID-19 vaccine card scam. Above, a healthcare worker fills out a COVID-19 vaccination card during a community health event in Los Angeles, California, August 11, 2021.
Robyn Beck/Getty

“In a typical transaction, Clifford charged $200 for the forged cards and accepted payment via CashApp or Zelle,” the press release read. “For an additional $250, co-conspirator Barkley, who works at a medical clinic in Patchogue, New York, would enter the individual’s name into the NYSIIS database as having received COVID-19 vaccines.”

In addition to Clifford and Barkley, the district attorney’s office said 13 other people who worked in “public settings or other essential employees, including hospitals, medical and nursing schools, and nursing homes retirement,” allegedly purchased Clifford’s fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.

The district attorney determined that these individuals worked in these environments after investigating Instagram messages they apparently sent to Clifford, “such as searches of New York State’s professional licensing databases.” .

The suspects were each charged with one count of criminal possession of a counterfeit instrument in the second degree, while one of the 13 was also charged with offering a false instrument for deposit in the first degree after he paid to be listed in the state vaccine database. .

“We will continue to protect public health in New York with proactive investigations like these, but the stakes are too high to tackle fake vaccination cards with scathing lawsuits,” District Attorney Vance said in a statement. communicated. “We need companies like Facebook to take action to prevent fraud from happening on their platforms. The making, selling, and buying of fake vaccination cards are serious crimes with serious implications for public safety. This investigation is ongoing.”

Clifford was charged with one count of criminal possession of a second degree forged instrument; one count of offering a false first-degree deed of deposit, a class E felony; and one count of conspiracy in the fifth degree, a class A misdemeanor.

Barkley was charged with one count of offering a false instrument of deposit in the first degree, a Class E felony, and one count of conspiracy in the fifth degree, a Class A misdemeanor.

Newsweek contacted the district attorney’s office for further comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Michelle J. Kelley