State AGs urge tech companies to stop vaccine card scams

    BRIEF

    A Department of Health and Human Services employee holds a COVID-19 vaccine record card Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington D.C. The cards will be sent out as part of vaccination kits from Operation Warp Speed, which is an effort by several U.S. government components and public partnerships to facilitate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom)

    Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and 45 other state attorneys general are urging Twitter, eBay, and Shopify to stop scammers from selling blank or fraudulently completed COVID-19 vaccine cards bearing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention logo on their platforms, according to a press release from Landry’s office.

    “The use of your platform to disseminate the deceptive marketing and sales of fake vaccine cards is a threat to residents of our states,” the officials said in joint letters to the tech companies. “As a result, we are asking you to take immediate action to prevent your platform from being used as a vehicle to commit these fraudulent and deceptive acts that harm our communities.”

    Providers give patients legitimate vaccination cards when they administer the coronavirus vaccine. People who buy fake cards can have their own information added to the card or add it in themselves, making it appear they have been vaccinated when they have not.

    “The false and deceptive marketing and sales of fake COVID vaccine cards threatens the health of our communities, slows progress in getting our residents protected from the virus, and is a violation of the laws of many states,” Landry said.

    Landry and his colleagues requested the tech companies:

    • Monitor their platforms for ads or links marketing or selling, or otherwise indicating the availability of blank or fraudulently completed vaccine cards
    • Promptly take down ads or links to any cards
    • Preserve records — such as the content, username and actual user identity — pertaining to any such ads or links
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    Wesley Muller
    Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the following 22 years since then, he has worked as a journalist for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. Much of his work has involved reporting on First Amendment issues and watchdog coverage of municipal and state government. He has received several honors and recognitions, including McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association, among others. Muller is a New Orleans native, a Jesuit High School alumnus, a University of New Orleans alumnus, a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper, and an adjunct English teacher at Baton Rouge Community College. He lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his teenage son and his wife, who is also a journalist.