The agency said in a statement Friday that CBP officers working in Memphis found 51 “low quality” COVID-19 vaccination cards from Shenzhen, China on the way to New Orleans. That was just one of 15 shipments in just one night, going to a number of different cities.
The agency said the cards have spaces for name and birthdays, the vaccine maker, lot number and where the shot was given. In this instance they were low quality, with a number of typos, unfinished words and misspelled Spanish writing on the back.
This fiscal year, which began in October 2020, Memphis alone has made 121 seizures totaling 3,017 cards. CBP had a message for those considering buying the fake vaccine cards.
“These vaccinations are free and available everywhere,” Michael Neipert, area port director of Memphis, said in a statement. “If you do not wish to receive a vaccine, that is your decision. But don’t order a counterfeit, waste my officers’ time, break the law, and misrepresent yourself.
“CBP Officers at the Area Port of Memphis remain committed to stopping counterfeit smuggling and helping to protect our communities. But just know that when you order a fake vaxx card, you are using my officers time as they also seize fentanyl and methamphetamines,” he said.
News of the seizure comes as a number of cities are either implementing, or considering implementing, vaccine mandates to get into certain venues or activities — and using vaccine cards as a way of verifying that information.
Tangtang Zhao, 34, was charged with 12 counts of theft of government property.
“Stealing and selling COVID-19 vaccination cards is inexcusable and will not be tolerated,” Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services IG said in a statement. “Fraudsters who engage in such unlawful conduct undermine efforts to address the pandemic and profit at the public’s expense.
Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report.