31 August 2021
The online platform Facebook needs to act against those using it as a marketplace to advertise fake vaccine certificates. Cyrus Vance, New York’s District attorney, made the call when announcing that his force had cracked a ring promoting these documents.
Vance was bringing charges against Jasmine Clifford who sold approximately 250 forged COVID-19 vaccination cards over Instagram. She worked with Nadayza Barkley. 13 other employees of the health system are alleged to have been part of the conspiracy.
It is alleged they jointly and fraudulently entered at least 10 individuals into the New York State Immunization Information System (“NYSIIS”) database.
A total of 15 defendants have been accused of engaging in a fake COVID-19 vaccination card conspiracy. Thirteen individuals who purchased the cards — all of whom are believed to work in frontline and essential-employee settings, including hospitals and nursing homes – were also charged.
“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 District Attorney Vance.
“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,” said Cyrus Vance.
Clifford advertised forged Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 vaccination cards through her Instagram account, @AntiVaxMomma.
She typically charged $200 for the falsified cards and accepted payment through CashApp or Zelle. For an additional $250 fee, co-conspirator Barkley, who works at a medical clinic in Patchogue, New York, would enter the individual’s name into the NYSIIS database as having received COVID-19 vaccinations.
NYSIIS serves as a central repository for vaccinations within the state and feeds data into New York State’s Excelsior Pass. In total, Clifford sold approximately 250 forged COVID-19 vaccination cards, and worked with Barkley to fraudulently enter at least 10 individuals into the NYSIIS database.
Among the individuals who purchased fake vaccination cards, 13 work in public-facing or other essential-employee settings – including hospitals, medical and nursing schools, and nursing homes – based on representations that the defendants made to Clifford in Instagram messages, and additional investigative steps, such as searches of New York State professional licensing databases.
The 13 defendants are each charged with one count each 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.
Jasmine Clifford was charged with
- Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, a class D felony, one count
- Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony, one count
- Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, a class A misdemeanor, one count