SALT LAKE CITY — As COVID-19 vaccines have allowed aspects of life to reopen, the value of a vaccine record has increased — as has a new market for fake cards.
That's why Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and attorneys general for over 30 other states and U.S. districts and territories signed a letter directed at the leaders of three tech companies Thursday, calling on them to crack down on fake vaccine cards being sold on the internet.
The letter was sent to the CEOs of eBay, Shopify and Twitter, for which the attorneys general said they had learned that the platforms were "being used to market and sell blank or fraudulently completed COVID vaccine cards bearing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention logo."
It asked the CEOs to take "immediate action," including monitoring their websites for ads or links marketing fake vaccine cards, quickly removing links or ads that promote fake vaccine cards and preserving the records of the "content, username and actual user identity" of anyone who posts ads or links to fake vaccine cards.
Vaccine identification cards are given to people by health providers after a person has received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose. Some countries require a completed vaccine card for travel and several companies, such as Krispy Kreme, have offered customers perks as an incentive for people to get the vaccine.
But the attorneys general warned that fake cards pose a threat because people can pretend they received the vaccine when they have not.
"We are deeply concerned about this use of your platforms to spread false and misleading information regarding COVID vaccines," the attorneys general wrote. "The false and deceptive marketing and sales of fake COVID vaccine cards threatens the health of our communities, slows progress in getting our residents protected from the virus, and are a violation of the laws of many states."
The letter concluded by asking for a response to the attorneys general by April 9. It was signed by a bipartisan group of attorneys general, including Reyes.
"It's sad but not surprising that fraudsters continue to take advantage of people during the pandemic but we're fighting back to protect Utahns," Reyes said in a statement Thursday. "Some of these fraudsters we can investigate but many use tactics that evade prosecution. So, we're asking social media platforms to help us crack down on ads and promotions designed to exploit vulnerable citizens."