U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers stopped a massive shipment of counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards from Shenzhen, China, in Memphis, Tennessee, according to a CBP press release published Friday.
Officials said the shipment was described as “PAPER CARD, PAPER” and was en route to the central business district of New Orleans. Inside the package was 51 “low quality, counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards.”
It was the 15th similar shipment encountered in one night, with each heading to a different city.
“NEW: Border Protection officers in Memphis stopped a HUGE shipment of fake COVID vaccine cards heading to New Orleans, from China,” wrote WDSU’s Christina Watkins on Twitter, sharing photos of the illicit cards.
“The cards have blanks for the recipient’s name and birthdate, the vaccine maker, lot number, and date and place the shot was given, as well as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) logo in the upper right corner,” the CBP said. “However, there were typos, unfinished words, and some of the Spanish verbiage on the back was misspelled.”
The CBP also knew the papers were counterfeit because the shipment was imported by a non-CDC or medical outfit. The packages containing fake vaccine cards “are always from China,” and are sometimes labeled as “Paper Greeting Cards/ Use For-Greeting Card.” The cards typically come in packs of 20, 51, or 100.
“They aren’t hidden in books, nor are they stuffed in the back of framed paintings. The recipients of this ubiquitous contraband are unfortunately all over the United States. This fiscal year to date, Memphis has made 121 seizures totaling 3,017 of these vaccination cards,” the CBP said.
Buying, selling or using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card is a crime punishable under Title 18 United States Code, Section 1017, as well as “other applicable laws,” the CBP noted, and violators could face a fine and up to five years in prison.
“@FBISeattle says: “That is a misuse of a government seal. It’s actually a crime to do that. It comes with it for each offense, up to a $5000 fine or 5 years in prison,” Deedee Sun, a Seattle reporter, posted on Twitter.
“These vaccinations are free and available everywhere,” said Michael Neipert, Area Port Director of Memphis. “If you do not wish to receive a vaccine, that is your decision. But don’t order a counterfeit, waste my officer’s time, break the law, and misrepresent yourself. CBP Officers at the Area Port of Memphis remain committed to stopping counterfeit smuggling and helping to protect our communities. But just know that when you order a fake vax card, you are using my officers’ time as they also seize fentanyl and methamphetamines.”