A pharmacist was arrested Tuesday in Chicago on charges regarding his alleged sale of numerous authentic Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) coronavirus vaccination cards on eBay, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.
“According to court documents, in March and April 2021, Tangtang Zhao, 34, of Chicago, sold 125 authentic CDC vaccination cards to 11 different buyers for approximately $10 per card,” the agency said in a news release:
Zhao was a licensed pharmacist in Illinois and was employed at Company 1, a pharmacy which distributed and administered COVID-19 vaccines at its physical locations nationwide. As required by the CDC, Company 1 provided a CDC Vaccination Record Card to each vaccine recipient. Zhao, who worked at Company 1 as a pharmacist during that time, obtained and subsequently offered authentic CDC vaccination cards for sale online. The indictment charges Zhao with 12 counts of theft of government property.
The blank cards were apparently being sold on websites such as Craigslist, eBay, and OfferUp.
Chad Anderson, a senior security researcher with Domaintools, an organization tracking cyber threats, was among the first to publish his findings.
“It seems that they’re printed on very similar card stock [with] near identical font,” Anderson commented, adding, “They’re being sold under the guise of novelty cards.”
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) – Chicago Region, said, “Stealing and selling COVID-19 vaccination cards is inexcusable and will not be tolerated.”
“Fraudsters who engage in such unlawful conduct undermine efforts to address the pandemic and profit at the public’s expense. The health and safety of the public is our top priority, and we encourage people to obtain vaccination cards from their administering medical providers,” Pugh added.
Zhao made his first court appearance Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila M. Finnegan of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
“If convicted, he faces a sentence of 10 years in prison per count,” the news release concluded.
The case is United States v. Zhao, No. 21-cr-505 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.”