SAN FRANCISCO — On Etsy, eBay, Facebook and Twitter, little rectangular slips of paper started showing up for sale in late January. Printed on card stock, they measured three-by-four inches and featured crisp black lettering. Sellers listed them for $20 to $60 each, with a discount on bundles of three or more. Laminated ones cost extra.
All were forgeries or falsified copies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination cards, which are given to people who have been inoculated against Covid-19 in the United States.
“We found hundreds of online stores selling the cards, potentially thousands were sold,” said Saoud Khalifah, the founder of FakeSpot, which offers tools to detect fake listings and reviews online.
The coronavirus has made opportunists out of many people, like those who hoarded bottles of hand sanitizer at the start of the pandemic or those who cheated recipients out of their stimulus checks. Now online scammers have latched onto the latest profit-making initiative: the little white cards that provide proof of shots.
Airlines and other companies have recently said they may require proof of Covid-19 immunization so that people can safely travel or attend events.
The cards may also become central to “vaccine passports,” which offer digital proof of vaccinations. Some tech companies developing vaccine passports ask people to upload copies of their C.D.C. cards. Los Angeles also recently began using the C.D.C. cards for its own digital proof of immunization.