A Maryland man has been busted for selling more than 600 fake COVID-19 vaccine cards after advertising them on social media, authorities said.
Amar Salim Shabazz, 23, of Owings Mills, ordered hundreds of fake vaccine cards through a foreign online marketplace in June and got them illegally shipped into the United States, the Department of Justice said. Shabazz then advertised to sell them through his social media pages and distributed them through the United Parcel Service.
Shabazz, who sold fake vaccine cards from $60 to $75, was charged with mail fraud and obstruction of justice in a criminal complaint unsealed on Dec. 3, News Observer reported.
Investigators found that Shabazz had made an online search for a “fake covid vaccination record card” in June. Within a few days, he placed an order from a Chinese online marketplace that sells fake COVID-19 vaccine cards.
“On July 10, 2021, after the shipment was delivered, Shabazz posted a video of multiple fraudulent vaccination cards on two of his social media accounts with the caption ‘Covid19 vaccination card who want one. $75 a pop,’” WFLA reported citing the Department Of Justice.
In the following weeks, Shabazz posted photos to his Facebook page of news articles discussing vaccine requirements in Washington, D.C., and New York City accompanied by an advertisement for his fake vaccine cards. "Who needs a vaccination card to bypass the bs they starting to do with our ‘freedom’. DM NOW FOR PRICE,” Shabazz captioned the photos.
According to court documents, many of the cards had “COVID” misspelled on them, News Observer reported.
Shabazz reportedly also advertised that he was sold out in August. In a message to a friend, Shabazz told him that he had ordered 500 more cards and “made 300 today.” “I’m gonna be rich,” he said during the exchange.
Meanwhile, his new shipment got intercepted at the border by U.S. Customs officials who replaced it with a box of disposable face masks before delivering it to Shabazz’s mom’s house where he stayed. However, Shabazz succeeded in placing orders again by end of August and September and sold them to people in New Jersey, North Carolina, and Illinois, prosecutors said.
Shabazz was on probation for child pornography charges when he plotted the fraudulent scheme. During a search at his basement, the officers found dozens of fake COVID vaccine cards and handwritten notes titled: “Things I’m doing when I get out (updated).”
If convicted in the fake vaccine card case, Shabazz could face up to 20 years each for mail fraud and obstruction of justice.