The Fraud Examiner

The Rise of COVID-19 Vaccination Card Fraud
 

Ron Cresswell, J.D., CFE
Research Specialist, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners                                 


If you received a COVID-19 vaccination, you probably also received a printed vaccination certificate. These certificates will become more important in the coming months. As more people are vaccinated and the world begins to open up, proof of vaccination will be required to participate in certain activities. Several cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines, now require passengers to provide proof of vaccination. The European Union is developing a system to relax travel restrictions for individuals who can prove they have been fully vaccinated. Many employers have announced that they will require proof of vaccination for employees who wish to return to the workplace. Some cities already require proof of vaccination, or a recent negative COVID-19 test, to attend large events. Vaccination-based restrictions are likely to increase as the year progresses, and proof of vaccination will be the key to navigating those restrictions.

While there has been talk of digital vaccination passes, most of those digital options are still in the planning phases. According to the New York Times, “Most of the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who got at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine in the past few months received a flimsy piece of paper.” In the U.S., vaccinated individuals receive a 4-by-3-inch paper card entitled “COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card.” The card contains the logo of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as blanks for the patient’s name and birthdate, the type of vaccine the patient received, and the date and location of the vaccinations. The blanks are generally filled in manually by the patient, the vaccination provider or both. These cards are very easy to replicate, using only basic word processing software and a printer. As a result, COVID-19 vaccination card fraud is on the rise.


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