A licensed pharmacist in Chicago sold 125 authentic COVID-19 vaccination cards on eBay, hawking them for about $10 bucks apiece, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Tangtang Zhao, 34, who worked at an unnamed pharmacy chain that distributes the vaccine nationwide, was arrested Tuesday for selling the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cards to 11 different buyers from late March through early April, according to the Department of Justice.
Zhao first sold 10 vaccination cards to an eBay buyer who paid $88.03 on March 25. Two days later, he sold another 10 cards to a second person for $95.88, an indictment shows.
Zhao has been charged with 12 counts of theft of government property — or one count for each alleged sale of the cards prosecutors allege he stole from his workplace. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison on each count.
A table in Zhao’s indictment lists 11 different buyers who paid him as much as $176.70 for 17 CDC vaccination cards. One customer, identified only as “S.W.,” purportedly made two buys from Zhao, totaling $238.79 for 23 cards altogether. In all, Zhao collected $1,277 in the scheme, the indictment says.
“Knowingly selling COVID vaccination cards to unvaccinated individuals puts millions of Americans at risk of serious injury or death,” Chicago FBI Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. said in a statement. “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.”
Zhao made his initial court appearance Tuesday before Magistrate Judge Sheila Finnegan in US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The FBI and officials from the Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Inspector General are investigating the case, federal prosecutors said.
It’s unclear if Zhao has hired an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
An eBay spokesperson, meanwhile, told The Post the website has removed or blocked more than 85 million listings violating policies related to COVID-19, including price-gouging and false medical claims. The e-commerce giant is also working with the Food and Drug Administration to monitor listings related to coronavirus vaccines.
“We are taking significant measures to block or quickly remove items on our marketplace that make false health claims including vaccine ID cards or similar items that could be used to falsely represent a person has received the vaccine,” an eBay spokesperson said in a statement. “We are making every effort to ensure that anyone who sells on our platform follows local laws and eBay policies and are cooperating fully with any investigation conducted by law enforcement.”