A Chicago pharmacist was arrested and accused of selling hundreds of authentic Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 vaccine cards on eBay, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement this week.
Tangtang Zhao, a 34-year-old licensed pharmacist in Illinois, allegedly took vaccine record cards from his former place of employment to sell online, according to court documents . The pharmaceutical company, which is solely referred to as “Company 1,” distributes and ministers that COVID-19 vaccines, and in accordance with CDC protocol, provides vaccination record cards to each recipient. Zhao is accused of obtaining said cards while at work, and later listing them on Ebay for $10 each. Zhao reportedly sold a total of 126 cards to 12 customers in March and April of 2021 and earned over $1,000 for the transactions.
Zhao been arrested and charged with 12 counts of theft of government property, facing up to 10 years in prison per count, the indictment says. Zhao could serve a sentence of 120 years if found guilty on all 12.
A screenshot of the Indictment against Tangtang Zhao.Credit: United States District Court Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division
“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. “The Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting the American people from these offenses during this national emergency.”
“Knowingly selling Covid vaccination cards to unvaccinated individuals puts millions of Americans at risk of serious injury or death,” Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office, added. “To put such a small price on the safety of our nation is not only an insult to those who are doing their part in the fight to stop COVID-19, but a federal crime with serious consequences.”
“Stealing and selling Covid-19 vaccination cards is inexcusable and will not be tolerated,” Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) – Chicago Region, concurred. “Fraudsters who engage in such unlawful conduct undermine efforts to address the pandemic and profit at the public’s expense. The health and safety of the public is our top priority, and we encourage people to obtain vaccination cards from their administering medical providers.”
Zhao’s case, which is currently being investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG, is ongoing.