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Fake vaccine cards: I-Team uncovers the latest underground offers

CLEVELAND – A FOX 8 I-Team investigation has exposed new underground offers that let people avoid getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but still claim they got it.

We uncovered offers on the back channels of the internet saying you never have to get the COVID-19 shot, but you will still be put into a medical database showing you are vaccinated.

 Federal officials warn that those making the offers could be suspected con artists. And, internet security experts say, “watch out.”

 The I-Team sent messages to two people making these offers. We asked if they were still selling the vaccination cards and how are they able to get anyone entered into that healthcare database.

One person wrote back that it will cost $100 for a blank card and $200 for a registered card. That person claimed to work with doctors who have access to register people in the database.

The other person claimed to work with pharmacies.

 “I pay someone to get it done for you,” the person wrote. “No need to ever get the jab.”

When we told them we were reporters with the FOX 8 I-Team, and we would like to interview them for this story, they told us, “Goodbye.”

Internet watchdog Eric Feinberg, vice president with a group called Coalition For A Safer Web, spoke out.

Feinberg said he has noticed an increase in the number of people selling these fake vaccine cards. A few months ago, the cards were selling for less than $50 on the dark web, and the price has now more than doubled.

“I started noticing what was different in the posts. Not that they were just selling the cards, but they were offering to register you at pharmacies, doctor’s offices and hospitals,” Feinberg said.

Alicia Shoults, with the Office of Public Affairs and Communications for the Ohio Department of Health, says only healthcare providers submit information on a patient’s vaccination record to the statewide immunization registry. 

She added that the registry can only be accessed by healthcare providers.

“As the registry contains information about a patient’s medical history, it is treated as an electronic health record,” Shoults said. “And cannot be used for the purposes of checking vaccine status for the purposes of travel, employment, etc.”

Cyber security experts warn these offers to pay your way into the medical database could simply lead to you having your identity stolen.

The I-Team recently caught up with Brian Linder, of Check Point, a cyber security firm.   

“These bad actors that are capturing data and selling these documents, they ought to be paying you for the data. They’re selling the data and profiting from it,” he said.

The people behind the offers are not easy to track down. They’re using encrypted apps, sometimes operating from overseas and more.

Feinberg says his group is calling on lawmakers to come up with ways to increase regulation and oversight of the internet.

He said the fake vaccine cards and the promises to get you into a database are just two more examples of why his organization plans to keep working on new ways to protect people online.