U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise George joined attorneys general throughout the nation calling on Twitter, eBay, and Shopify to act immediately to prevent people from selling fraudulent CDC vaccination cards on their platforms.
A bipartisan coalition of 45 attorneys general, led by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, raised concerns about the public health risks of these fake cards in a letter to the companies’ CEOs, according to a news release issued Friday by the V.I. Department of Justice.
Legitimate vaccination cards are given by providers when they administer the vaccine. People who buy fake cards can have their own information added to the card or add it in themselves, so it appears they have been vaccinated when they have not.
These deceptive cards threaten the health of communities, slow progress in getting people protected from the virus, and violate many state laws, George said in Friday’s statement.
“In order to protect the safety of Virgin Islands residents, the Bryan- Roach Administration has been cracking down on the fraudulent submission of fake COVID test results by travelers to the Virgin Islands, including residents and tourists,” George said. “Two people who traveled to the V.I. have been arrested this week for uploading falsified test results to the territory’s online travel portal. False vaccine card submissions are likely to be next. Since Shopify and eBay have been identified as platforms that are being used to market and sell blank or fraudulently completed vaccine cards, this is one way for us to address the problem from its source. Our COVID -19 Task Force has pleaded with the general public to refrain from engaging in this type of fraudulent activity because the use of fake vaccine cards and false COVID test results put members of our Virgin Islands community at a higher health risk and violates the criminal laws of the V.I. Offenders will be prosecuted.”
The V.I. attorney general had announced last week that anyone found submitting false COVID-19 documents or forged test results to the USVI travel screening portal may be arrested and prosecuted for making fraudulent claims upon the government, pursuant to the Virgin Islands Code.
In accordance with Gov. Albert Bryan’s executive order, all USVI passengers five years of age or older traveling by air or sea, including those in transit, must use the USVI Travel Screening Portal and submit a COVID-19 test result prior to travel. A COVID-19 test is not required to leave the USVI, however, travelers into the USVI must upload a legitimate COVID-19 test result to the travel portal. A negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel OR a positive COVID-19 antibody test taken within four months ahead of travel are required to enter the USVI from the U.S.
Without travel clearance from the portal, passengers may not be able to board an aircraft or vessel to the territory, George’s news release said.
V.I. Department of Health officials have confirmed that there has been a recent increase in fraudulent test results submitted to the travel portal.
In their letter, the attorneys general ask the CEOs of the social media companies to:
– Monitor their platforms for ads or links selling blank or fraudulently completed vaccination cards.
– Promptly take down ads or links that are selling cards.
– Preserve records and information about the ads and the people who were selling them.
Along with Attorney General George of the V.I., the letter was endorsed by the attorneys general of North Carolina, Tennessee, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.