Former Marine Reservist Sentenced for Selling Fake COVID Vaccination Cards

A Covid-19 identification card and mask.
A Covid-19 identification card and mask. (Wikimedia Commons)

A former Marine Corps reservist was sentenced on Friday to 21 months in federal prison for selling bogus COVID-19 vaccination cards to unvaccinated people.

Prosecutors said Jia Liu, 28, partnered with fellow admitted scammer Steven Rodriguez to steal, forge and distribute fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards to people looking to get around stringent vaccination requirements at work, restaurants and other places during the most chaotic months of the coronavirus pandemic.

The cards were distributed to more than 300 buyers.

In addition to the fake cards, Liu and Rodriguez, 29, also offered buyers and co-conspirators false entry into government immunization databases, officials said.

Last year, Rodriguez, a Long Island nurse, was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

"At the height of the COVID pandemic, Liu and Rodriguez brazenly fabricated vaccine cards and sold them for profit, thereby putting the safety of others at risk during this deadly health crisis," Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District in Brooklyn, said in a statement.

"This prosecution demonstrates our office's ongoing commitment to holding accountable those who engaged in COVID-19 fraud. These prison sentences should deter other lawbreakers who put their own interests above public health."

Peace said the pair went to great lengths to conceal the operation.

Co-conspirators used code words such as "gift cards," "Pokemon cards" or "Cardi Bs" to refer to the fake vaccine cards.

Liu also told his partners to communicate by encrypted applications and hide payment records, officials said.

The pair also disguised the source of mail items containing the cards, or used false names on envelopes.

Prosecutors said Liu and his partner were more concerned with profit and pushing their anti-vaccine agenda than they were with the hundreds of thousands of people who perished as the disease ravaged much of America.

Liu even messaged a co-conspirator "f--k the vaccine" when people were clamoring to get the shot.

Officials said Liu specifically targeted people in the military, helping fellow Marine Corps reservists evade the military's vaccination requirements, even bragging about his exploits in an encrypted messaging app.

"You have no idea how many documents I have faked in my USMC career," he wrote, officials said.

Liu was also charged with climbing through a broken window into the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection that delayed Congress' certification of President Biden's electoral victory. Security cameras recorded Liu entering the building, according to a criminal complaint.

© 2024 New York Daily News.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Story Continues