A Maryland man who allegedly ordered over 600 fake COVID-19 vaccination cards and sold them on social media now faces federal charges.
Amar Salim Shabazz, 23, of Owings Mills, Maryland, was charged with mail fraud and obstruction of justice for illegally shipping the cards to the U.S., advertising them on social media and distributing them through UPS, the Justice Department said.
Shabazz allegedly placed his first order for the cards on a foreign website in June after viewing a video titled “Scammers Work to Sell Fake Covid Vaccination Cards Online.” Shabazz went on to place several more orders on the site, accumulating over 600 fake cards by August, the complaint alleges.
The cards, advertised on Shabazz’s social media accounts, sold for $60, $70 and $75 each.
“Covid19 vaccination card who want one. $75 a pop,” Shabazz allegedly wrote on July 10 in his first post about the cards.
The complaint says Shabazz continued to advertise the cards on social media, even commenting “I SELL PROOF OF VACCINATION CARDS” under an article about bars and restaurants requiring guests to prove their vaccination status.
“Made 300 today. I’m sold out. Just bought 500 more cards. 60x500 is $30k. I’m gonna be rich,” Shabazz allegedly messaged one individual.
Customs and Border Protection Officials seized one of Shabazz’s orders in August, and law enforcement executed search warrants in October on a basement Shabazz used.
DOJ says Shabazz was released from a Maryland prison in April after being convicted for possession of child pornography and kept a list titled, “Things I’m doing when I get out (updated).” The list included “hire a lawyer and get tips of what not to do when getting money illegally."
Shabazz allegedly deleted his email account and researched how to delete his account with the site through which he ordered the fake vaccine cards after the search warrant was executed.
Each count Shabazz faces carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if he is convicted.
Since August, officials have seized thousands of fake vaccination cards from mail facilities, the complaint states.
Anyone with information on attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form here.