CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — The Department of Justice revealed Tuesday in a release that a Chicago pharmacist, Tangtang Zhao was arrested on suspicion of selling authentic Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination cards online.
In court documents, according to the release, Zhao, 34 is charged with 11 counts of theft of government property for allegedly selling 125 fraudulent vaccination cards for $10 each to 11 buyers online.
Zhao, a licensed pharmacist in Illinois, worked for a company that distributed and administered COVID-19 vaccines nationwide. Per CDC requirements, every person who gets vaccinated receives one of the cards, which are becoming increasingly more important with proof of vaccination being required for everything from concert tickets to remaining employed.
“We take seriously, and will vigorously investigate, any criminal offense that contributes to the distrust around vaccines and vaccination status,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “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,” said Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office. “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.”
The documents did not name the company Zhao worked for.
Zhao faces up to 10 years in federal prison on each count, for a potential sentence of more than a century. He made his initial court appearance Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila M. Finnegan of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
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