Tangtang Zhao has been charged with stealing official COVID-19 vaccination cards and selling them on eBay for about $10 each. Zhao allegedly sold about 125 actual vaccine cards from his home in Chicago between March and April 2021. He was a licensed pharmacist in Illinois and was employed at a pharmacy that distributed COVID-19 vaccines.
Zhao was indicted on 12 counts of theft of government property. He made his initial court appearance in August in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Each count carries a potential maximum sentence of 10 years in prison – Zhao is looking at potentially 120 years in prison. Senate Majority Chuck Schumer has called for federal law enforcement to ramp up actions against those selling fake or false vaccination cards.
Why Is Selling or Buying Vaccine Cards Illegal?
A black market for blank vaccine cards has arisen over the last several months. US Customs and Border Protection recently confiscated more than 3,000 counterfeit vaccine cards coming in from China to Alaska (CDC cards are not made in China). A Florida couple was also charged with using fake vaccine cards to fly to Hawaii; they were using fake vaccine cards for their 4 and 5 year old children even though the vaccine is not approved or administrated to children under the age of 12.
However, obtaining a vaccine card without a vaccine is illegal in several respects. People who receive the COVID-19 vaccine are issued a vaccine card; both the vaccine and vaccine card are free. If Zhao is selling the vaccine cards, then he is stealing from the federal government as he is embezzling government property for his own personal profit. Moreover, Zhao would be creating an artificial shortage of vaccine cards that wouldn’t match the number of vaccines given out. If the allegations are true, Zhao is stealing from taxpayers in order to enrich himself.
However, the buyers of vaccine cards should be cautiousness. If an unvaccinated person intends to fill out and use a vaccine card to pass themselves off as vaccinated – even though they are not vaccinated – that would constitute criminal fraud. The unvaccinated person is holding him or herself out as having been vaccinated to businesses, government authorities, and other individuals who expect to be an environment safe from COVID. Americans rely on vaccination cards to inform them whether a person is vaccinated. Purchasing a vaccination card with the intent to misrepresent one’s vaccination status is not only immoral but also a crime.
Moreover, this black market is putting many others at risk, including the people who buy the cards themselves. An unvaccinated person can expose him or herself to COVID or expose young people who can’t get the vaccine to COVID. This deception also potentially undermines confidence in the vaccine itself. If “vaccinated” persons are infected, go to hospital, or die from COVID, then unvaccinated persons would take that as proof that the vaccines don’t work, thereby increasing the risk of more COVID infections.
What If I Just Lost My Vaccine Card?
If you were vaccinated already but lost your card, you can return the medical center where you originally obtained your card to ask for a replacement. If the medical center is unable to provide a replacement card, you can also contact your state’s health department for a replacement.
Do I Need An Attorney For A Criminal Law Issue?
A skilled criminal defense attorney can make sure you know all your rights, that they are being protected, and will know the best strategies to help you get the best outcome possible in your case. Remember, with criminal charges, access to an attorney is your right.