A licensed pharmacist in Chicago marketed 125 authentic COVID-19 vaccination playing cards on eBay, hawking them for about $10 bucks apiece, federal prosecutors stated Tuesday.
Tangtang Zhao, 34, who worked at an unnamed pharmacy chain that distributes the vaccine nationwide, was arrested Tuesday for promoting the Facilities for Disease Management and Avoidance playing cards to 11 distinctive buyers from late March by early April, according to the Department of Justice.
Zhao first offered 10 vaccination cards to an eBay customer who compensated $88.03 on March 25. Two times later, he marketed one more 10 cards to a next individual for $95.88, an indictment demonstrates.
Zhao has been charged with 12 counts of theft of government assets — or one count for each alleged sale of the playing cards prosecutors allege he stole from his place of work. If convicted, he faces up to 10 many years in jail on each rely.
A desk in Zhao’s indictment lists 11 distinct purchasers who paid him as substantially as $176.70 for 17 CDC vaccination cards. One particular client, recognized only as “S.W.,” purportedly designed two buys from Zhao, totaling $238.79 for 23 cards entirely. In all, Zhao gathered $1,277 in the scheme, the indictment states.
“Knowingly promoting COVID vaccination cards to unvaccinated persons puts millions of People at risk of significant damage or demise,” Chicago FBI Distinctive Agent in Demand Emmerson Buie Jr. mentioned in a assertion. “To put these a compact selling price on the security of our country is not only an insult to individuals who are performing their part in the struggle to end COVID-19, but a federal crime with critical outcomes.”
Zhao produced his original courtroom overall look Tuesday ahead of Magistrate Decide Sheila Finnegan in US District Courtroom for the Northern District of Illinois. The FBI and officials from the Division of Wellness & Human Services’ Business office of Inspector Common are investigating the scenario, federal prosecutors mentioned.
It’s unclear if Zhao has hired an legal professional who could communicate on his behalf.
An eBay spokesperson, in the meantime, explained to The Post the internet site has eradicated or blocked much more than 85 million listings violating guidelines associated to COVID-19, including cost-gouging and bogus medical promises. The e-commerce big is also operating with the Foods and Drug Administration to observe listings connected to coronavirus vaccines.
“We are taking sizeable actions to block or promptly clear away things on our marketplace that make wrong wellbeing promises which include vaccine ID playing cards or identical merchandise that could be utilized to falsely represent a individual has been given the vaccine,” an eBay spokesperson reported in a assertion. “We are building just about every effort and hard work to ensure that everyone who sells on our system follows nearby guidelines and eBay procedures and are cooperating thoroughly with any investigation conducted by legislation enforcement.”