A New Jersey woman advertising herself on Instagram as the AntiVaxMomma sold about 250 fake COVID-19 vaccination cards at $200 a pop to New York City-area jab dodgers, including people working in hospitals and nursing homes, prosecutors said Tuesday. For an extra $250, a second scammer would then enter a bogus card buyer's name into a New York state vaccination database, which feeds systems used to verify vaccine status at places they're required, such as concerts and sporting events, prosecutors said. Jasmine Clifford, of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, was charged Tuesday with offering a false instrument, criminal possession of a forged instrument, and conspiracy, reports the AP.
According to prosecutors, Clifford started hawking forged CDC vaccination cards through her AntiVaxMomma Instagram account in May. A New York state police investigator who became aware of the scam a few weeks later tested it by contacting Clifford to order a fake card and to be added to the state vaccine database, prosecutors said. In July, the investigator said in court papers, he received a package containing a CDC COVID-19 vaccination card marked with the name and date of birth he provided and a cellphone screenshot showing the info he provided had also been added to the state database.
Clifford's alleged co-conspirator, Nadayza Barkley, of Bellport, Long Island, faces charges of offering a false instrument and conspiracy. Prosecutors say Barkley entered at least 10 names into the state's vaccine database while working at a Patchogue medical clinic and received payments for her work from Clifford through the services Zelle and CashApp. Thirteen alleged card purchasers were also charged. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. called on tech companies to crack down on vaccine card fraudsters: "The stakes are too high to tackle fake vaccination cards with whack-a-mole prosecutions." (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)