New York, N.Y. — Last May, New Yorkers got COVID-19 vaccine cards and a nice bribe (a free one-week transit pass) in return for getting jabbed at Grand Central Station. But in a totally unforeseen set of circumstances, some Americans who don’t want the vaccines are buying fake “credentials.”
It’s almost like people think they are being forced into doing something against their rights.
Over 150 million Americans have been handed their papers with an official federal logo showing that they’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In a growing pattern that card is required to get into concerts, sporting events and workplaces, soon to be followed by transit, shopping, and probably watering one’s lawn.
But the cards can easily be fabricated by fraudsters and are being sold to people who need to show a record that they have been vaccinated but don’t want to get anywhere near the needle.
This unexpected black market in fake vaccine cards has alarmed law enforcement officials — and prompted some state legislators to act.
The measure will be sent to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo after the state Senate and Assembly passed a bill that makes it a crime to possess or forge phony COVID-19 vaccine cards or digital passports (see what they did there? ALL in the name of ‘Public Safety’).
“I can’t think of too many things more despicable than people not wanting to get vaccinated but wanting proof that they were,” said New York Democratic state Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz, who sponsored the Assembly bill. “They’re potentially putting people who can’t get the vaccine in harm’s way, like those who are immunocompromised or children under 12. That’s a horrible thing to do.”
OK, granted it’s pretty shady-but so is forcing people to wear stars in order to buy food.
New Jersey is trying to play ‘catch-up’, as state lawmakers are considering similar legislation.
Since it’s already a federal crime to buy, use or sell fraudulent documents that bear a federal agency’s seal (violators face a fine and up to five years in prison). It’s no surprise that COVID-19 vaccination cards would fall under this definition as they have the logo of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The documents currently feature the recipient’s name, birth date, the vaccine maker, lot number, and date/place the shot(s) was/were given.
In short, the crime here is to use the Federal Governments good name in vain.
Pursuing those fraudsters mostly falls to state and local authorities, as state legislators say it’s unlikely that the FBI and federal prosecutors are going to go after people who commit smaller, individual violations. But I should point out that even if other states join New York in issuing digital vaccine passports, the federal law shouldn’t apply-because those documents are created by a state and don’t have a federal agency’s seal.
When asked whether the FBI has made any arrests related to fake vaccine cards, spokesperson Sofia Kettler wrote in an email that the agency “has no new information to provide regarding this topic.”
I am not comforted by this evasive answer to a simple ‘yes-or-no’ question.
Arrests for schemes related to vaccine cards appear to have been made at the state or local level. In California, a bar owner in San Joaquin County was arrested in May on charges of selling fake cards after undercover state alcoholic beverage control agents allegedly bought four at $20 apiece. While reprehensible, I wonder why is the ABC board involved with what essentially amounts to medical fraud?
In New York, Nassau County police arrested a drugstore clerk last month on suspicion of stealing 54 blank vaccine cards and eight other ones that were prefilled and missing only names. Police said he intended to sell them to students and share them with family and friends.
But some folks may also have political or ideological reasons for seeking fake vaccine cards. According to NBC News in April, some people on pro-Trump and anti-vaccine internet forums were sharing instructions on how to forge them. Because, of course, ONLY pro-Trump and other ‘deplorables’ would have any reason for getting paid to falsify documents.
New York Democratic state Sen. Anna Kaplan stated she sponsored the Senate bill because she wanted to “send a message” and “clearly spell out in state law that it’s a crime to falsify vaccine cards or possess them.” “We’re giving people a card showing they are vaccinated so they can travel, go to stadiums, go to college,” Kaplan said. “We want to make sure that everyone who is vaccinated can go in comfort and know that they are safe. Someone abusing these cards is putting themself (sic) and others in harm’s way. They will be held accountable.”
Why is it every time some political clod pushes a new set of rules we always hear about “being held accountable?” It’s like hearing “bullying will not be tolerated.”-pretty much every school kid knows that it is nothing but feel-good malarkey that is not going to be enforced.
Assemblymember Dinowitz said that while some could argue that New York state law already may address such conduct, he filed his bill because he wanted to make sure there’s no question it’s illegal.
“By passing the law, it underlines the importance of this issue,” he said. “I hope other states will follow suit.”
Dinowitz, who worries about this issue in part because his grandchildren are too young to get the vaccine and could be exposed to people who aren’t vaccinated, said he is particularly bothered by what he calls hypocrisy.
“If you refuse to get vaccinated, then don’t get a false card,” he said. “Why would you want to have proof that you got vaccinated?”
As a nonreligious person, even I’ll take a stab at that one:
Revelation 13:17, KJV: “And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”
People enjoy eating, shopping, and generally going out to do things. Whether this is the ‘Mark’ of anything is debatable; what is not up for discussion is whether or not it is going to function exactly the same way.
Some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination for employers, vendors and clients. Those who refuse to get a shot may be denied any form of personal interaction. The city of San Francisco announced last week it would require all 35,000 of its employees to show proof they were fully vaccinated once a vaccine receives full authorization from the federal Food and Drug Administration.
A growing number of colleges also will be requiring proof of vaccination this fall for entrance. Not sure how they are going to handle ‘online’ courses, but heavy money says this is going to be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and it’s becoming mandatory at some entertainment and sporting events.
Next: Part II: The Quickening
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