One New Jersey woman known as @AntiVaxMomma on Instagram is being charged in Manhattan for selling hundreds of fraudulent vaccination cards online.
The woman, Jasmine Clifford, 31, was charged Tuesday with conspiracy and offering a false instrument for filing, as well as possession of a false instrument after selling about 250 fake vaccination cards over Instagram at $200 apiece.
Her co-conspirator, Nadayza Barkley, 27, has been charged with a felony for her part in the scheme, according to The New York Times. In addition to the $200 vaccine card, people could pay another $250 to have Barkley enter them into the state’s vaccine records database, which transferred to New York state’s official Excelsior Pass system.
Barkley allegedly entered at least 10 people who were not actually vaccinated into the record according to the New York Times.
The bust didn’t stop there– a total of 15 were indicted, including 13 people who purchased the cards. Among the 13 faux-vaxxers were healthcare professionals working in hospitals and nursing homes.
TikTok user Tizzyent exposed Clifford’s scheme in a video that has since gone viral:
@tizzyentHow many claiming to get vaccinated are putting us all at risk? ##covid19 ##vaccine ##vaccinepassport ##fraud♬ original sound – TizzyEnt
The first account Clifford used to sell the fake vaccine cards was disabled, so she allegedly began selling them from her personal account @5starjazziii and @antivaxmomma2.
Tizzyent reached out to her posing as someone interested in getting in on the scheme. He found that Clifford sells about thirty cards a day and that her accomplice, Barkley, makes about $10,000 a week.
“Do the math on that, on how many people are walking around saying they are vaccinated when they are not,” Tizzyent noted.
The state of New York has implemented several vaccine mandates including one requiring all healthcare workers to be vaccinated by the end of September. Mayor Bill de Blasio imposed a mandate that all New York City employees must be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing and, by mid-September Big Apple residents who want to frequent movie theaters, gyms and restaurants will be required to have proof of at least one dose of the vaccine.
“We will continue to safeguard public health in New York with proactive investigations like these, but the stakes are too high to tackle fake vaccination cards with whack-a-mole prosecutions,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance in a press release.
“We need companies like Facebook to take action to prevent the fraud happening on their platforms. Making, selling, and purchasing forged vaccination cards are serious crimes with serious public safety consequences. This investigation is ongoing,” Vance noted.
“We prohibit anyone from buying or selling fake – or even genuine – COVID-19 vaccine cards. We removed Ms. Clifford’s account at the beginning of August for breaking our rules, and we will review any other accounts that might be doing the same thing. We appreciate the DA’s work on this matter and will remove this content whenever we find it,” a spokesman for Facebook said in response.
Clifford has a warrant out for her arrest and was supposed to appear in court on Tuesday. While she was notably absent, she is expected to be charged with two felonies and a conspiracy misdemeanor.
Barkley did appear in court on Tuesday and was released on her own recognizance, however, her attorney told the New York Times that she declined to comment further.
Forcing vaccination through mandates has evidently pushed those who are vaccine-hesitant to look to the black market. New York anticipated the demand and proactively passed a bill that makes it a state crime to falsify vaccination records.
“It was good foresight on our part to recognize that there were going to be those who would forge vaccine cards and create a public health danger,” State Senator Todd Kaminsky told the Times.
While New York has refrained from imposing other measures like mask mandates and social distancing, it has neglected to address the increasing concerns of vaccine efficacy by the vaccine-hesitant and those who begrudgingly received the shot in the first place.
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