Jasmine Clifford, also known as @AntiVaxMomma on Instagram, has been charged with selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.
Clifford began advertising the counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards through her Instagram account, which is no longer active, in May, according to the Manhattan district attorney's office. The cards cost $200 and buyers used CashApp or Zelle to pay for them, prosecutors said. For another $250, Clifford allegedly worked with Nadayza Barkley, a 27-year-old medical clinic employee in Patchogue, New York, to fraudulently enter at least 10 people into the New York State Immunization Information System database.
Prosecutors said Clifford, 31, sold about 250 cards via Instagram. Additional charges were also filed Monday against 15 people involved in the fake vaccination card scheme.
Clifford was charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, and conspiracy in the fifth degree. Barkley was charged with offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree and conspiracy in the fifth degree.
Of the 250 people who bought the fake cards, 13 of them — who are all believed to be frontline employees in hospitals and nursing homes — were charged with one count of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. called on Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, to crack down on fraud.
“We will continue to safeguard public health in New York with proactive investigations like these, but the stakes are too high to tackle fake vaccination cards with whack-a-mole prosecutions,” he said in a statement.
A Facebook spokesperson said the company prohibits anyone from "buying or selling fake — or even genuine — COVID-19 vaccine cards" on the platform.
"We removed Ms. Clifford’s account at the beginning of August for breaking our rules, and we will review any other accounts that might be doing the same thing," the spokesperson said. "We appreciate the DA’s work on this matter and will remove this content whenever we find it.”
Despite COVID-19 vaccinations being available to anyone 12 and older, the illegal market for fake vaccine cards has grown over the past few months, thanks to sellers on Telegram, Amazon, and Etsy, the FBI announced in March.