November 11, 2021
CHICAGO (WLS) — There is a dangerous, booming black market for fake COVID vaccine cards as mandates to show proof of vaccination continues to grow.
The 3 inch by 4 inch COVID cards are an easy mark, a fairly unsophisticated medical document typically verified with handwritten information. There are no state-of-the-art security seals, but there is now a Chicago area crackdown to protect public health and preserve the integrity of the vaccination system.
The story behind bootlegged cards is evolving across the country as seizures of fraudulent, poor quality fakes have been increasing for months. With an uncertain federal deadline for large U.S. businesses to start enforcing mandates, the demand from the vaccine hesitant is expected to skyrocket.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at O’Hare International Airport intercepted three different shipments of bogus cards since August. They’re also continuing to see other pandemic-related items from home tests to touted but unapproved COVID-19 medications like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.
LaFonda Sutton-Burke, the newly installed Director of Field Operations for CBP Chicago, said there is little attempt to disguise the fake cards, unlike the creative packaging they’ve seen for other articles like fake purses, toy guns and illegal drugs.
In 2020, 30 million parcels came through the Chicago Postal International Sorting Center, and 10 million were inspected by CBP personnel. She said with the help of technology, their highly trained officers are making significant catches.