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A Chicago pharmacist has been charged with stealing official COVID-19 vaccination cards and selling them on eBay for roughly $10 each, federal prosecutors say.
Tangtang Zhao, 34, allegedly sold 125 authentic Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination cards to 11 buyers in March and April.
Zhao was indicted on 12 counts of theft of government property.
“We take seriously, and will vigorously investigate, any criminal offense that contributes to the distrust around vaccines and vaccination status,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in a statement.
“The Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting the American people from these offenses during this national emergency,” he added.
A black market for blank vaccine cards has cropped up online in recent months, but federal officials say it is illegal to use one if you are unvaccinated. People who receive the COVID-19 vaccine, which is free, are issued a vaccine card.
According to court documents, Zhao worked as a licensed pharmacist for a pharmacy identified only as Company 1, which has locations across the country. Company 1 administered COVID-19 vaccines and issued vaccine cards to the recipients.
“Knowingly selling COVID vaccination cards to unvaccinated individuals puts millions of Americans at risk of serious injury or death,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. from the Chicago field office.
Each count of theft of government property carries a potential maximum prison sentence of 10 years.