Jasmine Clifford (also known as @AntiVaxMomma) was charged with selling fake COVID-19 vaccination certificates.
According to the Manhattan district attorney's office, Clifford started advertising counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination certificates through her Instagram account in May. Prosecutors said that the cards cost $200, and buyers paid for them using CashApp or Zelle. Clifford was also alleged to have worked with Nadayza Barkley (a 27-year old Patchogue medical clinic employee) in order to fraudulently register at least 10 persons into the New York State Immunization Info System database.
Prosecutors claimed that Clifford, 31, had sold approximately 250 cards via Instagram. On Monday, 15 others were charged with participating in the fake vaccination cards scheme.
Clifford was accused of criminal possession in the second degree of a forgery instrument, offering a false instrument to file in the first degree and conspiracy in fifth degree. Barkley was charged for offering a false instrument to file in the first degree, and conspiracy in fifth degree.
One count each of the 250 individuals who purchased the fake cards was brought to the attention by 13 people, all of whom are believed to be nurses and frontline workers in hospitals.
Cy Vance Jr., Manhattan District Attorney, called on Facebook, Instagram's parent company to clamp down on fraud.
He stated that while we will continue to protect public health in New York through proactive investigations such as these, the stakes for fake vaccination cards are too high to face whack-amole prosecutions.
A Facebook spokesperson stated that the company does not allow anyone to "buy or sell fake or genuine COVID-19 vaccination cards" through the platform.
The spokesperson stated that Ms. Cliffords' account was removed at the beginning August because it violated our rules. She also said that we would review any other accounts doing the same thing. We appreciate the DAs efforts in this matter and will remove any content we find.
The illegal market for counterfeit vaccine cards has increased despite COVID-19 vaccinations being freely available to all people 12 years and older. This is thanks to Telegram, Amazon and Etsy sellers, according to the FBI's March announcement.