Could you spot your employee’s phony COVID-19 vaccination card? Ok, then what?

CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card

Whoisjohngalt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General alerted the public about a variety of COVID-19 scams, ranging from fake contact tracers COVID-19 survey scams asking for all sorts of personal information (e.g.,  Medicare number, financial information) to offers to sell fake vaccination cards.

Yesterday, NY busted a fake COVID-19 vaccination card scam.

But before I get into the details, here is your final reminder that “Everything HR Ever Wanted to Know about Mandating COVID-19 Vaccinations in the Workplace” is today, Wednesday, September 1, 2021, at Noon EDT on Zoom. Along with my partners, Amy Epstein GluckDavid Renner, and Sid Steinberg, we’ll talk about getting actual proof of vaccination, health and religious accommodations, booster shots, and privacy rights. And I promise that we’ll save time for some Q&A time too. (If you’d like to cut the line, then email me your questions now.)

The one-hour session is completely free. Just don’t expect to receive any legal advice; we get paid for that.

We smashed through 500 signups. But I sprung for 1K. So, you and all of your friends can register here.

Jake Offenhartz at Gothamist has details here on the bust. “Thirteen frontline and public-facing employees are facing charges for purchasing forged vaccination cards, as part of an Instagram scheme allegedly orchestrated by a New Jersey woman who goes by ‘AntiVaxMomma.'”

The Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. announced charges filed against fifteen people. AntiVaxMomma allegedly sold about 250 forged COVID-19 vaccination cards over Instagram for $200 each. Another woman is accused of fraudulently entering at least 10 individuals into the New York State Immunization Information System (“NYSIIS”) database, charging $250 each. NYSIIS serves as a central repository for vaccinations within the state and feeds data into New York State’s Excelsior Pass.

Who purchased these cards?

Allegedly thirteen individuals among them, all of whom are believed to work in frontline and essential-employee settings, including hospitals and nursing homes. Each was charged with one count of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree. One of the individuals is also charged with Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree for paying to be entered in the NYSIIS database.

So, how can you tell if a vaccine card is fake?

It’s not as if this is in the HR job description. But, I did a little internet sleuthing, and here’s what I found:

  • If possible, inspect the actual card (as opposed to a screenshot). The card should not be thin paper or look like someone cut it with scissors.
  • The card should not be fully printed; there should be some handwriting.
  • Where there is print, check for misspellings.
  • For Moderna and Pfizer, since it’s unlikely that the same person administered both doses, the handwriting corresponding to the first and second doses should be different and have stickers.

And what should you do if it turns out that the card is fake? Well, since it’s a federal crime to buy or use fraudulent documents that bear a federal agency’s seal, I’d opt for immediate termination of employment and a call to the authorities.

“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”
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