Fake COVID-19 vaccine cards are presenting a fresh quandary for enforcement efforts: Unlike most consumer fraud, neither the buyer nor seller is taking advantage of the other and buyers aren’t coming clean, reports Bloomberg News. From August to September, the number of sellers on the darknet offering forged vaccination records or test results went from about 1,000 to 10,000, according to cybersecurity firm Check Point Research. The rise in sellers coincides with an uptick in mandates for consumers around the U.S. to show proof of vaccination before entering certain venues.
No coherent approach has emerged to deter their use, or to provide guidance to businesses responsible for checking proof of vaccination. And because buyers can prolong an illegal scheme unless someone tips off the government to the fraud, businesses are on their own to check these cards. They’re trying to minimize legal risk by not collecting personal health data, but the lack of verification technology means they’re unable to properly detect fraud. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the HHS Office of Inspector General has opened approximately 400 formal investigations into Covid schemes. Anyone who makes, buys, or sells a fake vaccine card or fills in cards with false information could be fined or face prison time, according to a warning from the FBI.