Two Michigan residents, including a registered nurse, were arrested on Wednesday and charged with selling fraudulent COVID-19 vaccine cards.
Bethann Kierczak, 37, faces charges of theft or embezzlement related to a healthcare benefit program and theft of government property.
The complaint alleges that starting as early as May, the registered nurse distributed and sold real COVID-19 cards that had either been stolen or embezzled from a Veterans Affairs hospital. In order for the cards to look even more authentic, Kierczak used stolen or embezzled vaccine lot numbers for the cards, prosecutors say. Kierczak is accused of using Facebook's Messenger feature to connect with potential buyers and sell the cards for between $150 and $200 each.
Rapheal Jarrell Smiley, 32, was also arrested and faces charges of identity document fraud, trafficking in counterfeit goods and fraud involving department or agency seals.
Prosecutors say Smiley operated a scheme to distribute and sell COVID-19 vaccination cards, though these cards were fake from the onset. The Detroit resident is accused of getting the cards from two Chinese shippers and then using several social media accounts to advertise the sale of the COVID-19 vaccine cards.
It was not immediately clear if the two people were being represented by attorneys.
Federal records indicate that the COVID-19 vaccination cards have already been retrieved from federal agents all over the United States, including in Memphis, Tenn.; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Charlotte, North Carolina, The Detroit News reported.
“These arrests reflect our deep commitment to protecting the health of our community and preventing this dangerous fraud from affecting our most vulnerable citizens,” acting US Attorney Saima Mohsin said in a statement. “Regardless of whether an individual choses to get vaccinated, we urge everyone to avoid turning to schemes like these to evade vaccination requirements. Importing these cards is a crime. Selling these cards is a crime. We will continue to investigate these crimes and prosecute them accordingly.”