By Annie Rose Ramos
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Since the start of the pandemic, investigators with the Homeland Security’s Baltimore office have seized hundreds of counterfeit masks, fake COVID treatments and even fraudulent websites claiming to sell COVID vaccines.
Now, they’re dealing with a spike of counterfeit vaccination cards, being shipped into Baltimore.
So far, the team has seized about 1,000 fake vaccination cards, purchased from China and sent to the Baltimore area.
“We’ve made over 32 seizures of approximately 1,000 COVID cards,” said Christopher Tafe, part of the Border Enforcement Security Task Force at Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore.
Tafe showed an example of one vaccination card they seized that misspelled COVID on the fake vaccination cards. He said these cards were purchased from China and mailed to Maryland, a federal crime, with hundreds of cards meant to be sold for profit for anywhere from $500 to $2500.
“It’s a threat to public safety,” Tafe said.
And the COVID-19 cases don’t stop there. Since the start of the pandemic, HSI Baltimore’s team has been seizing fake masks and fake COVID medications, anything fraudulent coming through the Baltimore port or airport.
Evan Campanella works for the HSI Baltimore Cyber Crimes group, trying to find fake websites claiming to sell vaccines.
“One of the websites we seized was MORDERNA, so they stuck an ‘r’ somewhere in the website,” Campanella said.
So far, they’ve seized 15 counterfeit or fraudulent websites.
On one of the websites they seized, three residents of Baltimore County were involved. “They were receiving the money when people went to go and purchase the vaccines,” Campanella said.
And with the announcement of an antiviral COVID pill from Merck, they’re keeping their eyes peeled for any fake websites claiming to sell that pill.
“As soon as they’re up we do everything we can to get them down,” Campanella said.
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