BALTIMORE (WFLA) — A Maryland man was charged with federal mail fraud and obstruction of justice Friday after he allegedly sold over 600 fake COVID-19 vaccine cards, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
According to the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, Amar Salim Shabazz, 23, of Owings Mills, Maryland purchased over 600 fake vaccine cards through a foreign website and had them shipped illegally to the United States to sell them to others.
A criminal complaint stated Shabazz allegedly started selling these cards after searching “fake covid vaccination record card” online and watching a video called “Scammers Work to Sell Fake Covid Vaccination Cards Online.”
The DOJ report said Shabazz had the cards sent to “MAR S,” even putting his number for the recipient. Authorities said Shabazz ordered over 600 cards on multiple occasions.
After getting the cards, Shabazz advertised his fake cards on social media and mailed them through UPS, authorities said.
“On July 10, 2021, after the shipment was delivered, Shabazz posted a video of multiple fraudulent vaccination cards on two of his social media accounts with the caption ‘Covid19 vaccination card who want one. $75 a pop,’” the DOJ report states.
Federal authorities said on Aug. 5, Shabazz commented under an article concerning bars and restaurants requiring proof of vaccinationg, saying “I SELL PROOF OF VACCINATION CARDS”.
Five days later, he posted on social media “I’m sold out right now no more vax cards until next week,” and allegedly messaged another person that he “made 300 today. I’m sold out. Just bought 500 more cards. 60×500 is $30k. I’m gonna be rich,” the complaint states.
On Aug. 19, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized one of Shabazz’s card shipments marked with the name MAR SHA and his phone number. Authorities said while the package was delayed by Customs and Border Patrol, Shabazz looked up the phrase “customs inspection packages VACCINATION cards” and watched a video named, “FBI investigating fake vaccination cards.”
The criminal complaint said that on Aug. 31, Shabazz ordered another shipment under the name “ACE BOOGIE” but still had his number on it. The DOJ then said he allegedly uploaded a picture of the fake cards on social media, selling them for $70 each.
“Investigators subsequently interviewed multiple individuals outside Maryland to whom Shabazz sold fake COVID-19 vaccination cards and recovered the fake cards,” the DOJ report states. “Shabazz allegedly shipped these individuals’ fraudulent vaccination cards through the mail.”
On Oct. 1, law enforcement searched Shabazz’s basement and found a list of “Things I’m doing when I get out (updated).” Shabazz had been previously incarcerated for possession of child pornography and remains a registered sex offender.
Authorities said the list mentioned getting two “burner” cell phones, with the first phone being meant for scamming. Another item on the list was to “hire a lawyer and get tips of what not to do when getting money illegally.”
The day after the search, Shabazz allegedly searched how to delete his account on the foreign website and deleted his email account, the DOJ said.
The CBP had reportedly seized thousands of fake vaccine cards at mail facilities, the majority of which come from Asia.
If convicted, Shabazz could be sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for each charge.