A Chicago-based pharmacist has been convicted of stealing and selling COVID-19 vaccination cards.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Tangtang Zhao stole CDC-issued COVID-19 vaccination cards from the pharmacy where he worked, and sold them to buyers across the country through an online marketplace, according to the DOJ.
The DOJ’s press release states, “During a three-week timeframe in March and April 2021, Zhao posted listings for over 650 COVID-19 vaccination cards that he advertised as “authentic” and “straight from the CDC.” In total, he sold 630 cards to approximately 200 unique buyers, who paid Zhao more than $5,600”.
The Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) said in August 2021 that it began receiving “increasing reports of individuals creating, purchasing and using fake COVID-19 vaccination cards,” cautioning the spread of bogus cards can leave victims’ personal identity vulnerable.
A federal jury convicted Zhao on a dozen counts of theft of government property, according to the DOJ. At trial, the government showed eBay messages that were sent by Zhao to buyers of the fake vaccination card, court records show
However, Zhao’s lawyer Gal Pissetzky told told local media in a statement that his client is “disappointed in the verdict” and plans to appeal.
Zhao is slated to be sentenced on Nov. 28 and faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, according to the DOJ.