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OpinionColumnistsDan Janison

Forget 'voter fraud.' Vaxx fraud is real.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer talks about the

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer talks about the surge in counterfeit vaccination cards in August. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Chronic claims of voter fraud by one of the nation’s two major parties have become a power-grabbing myth, a manipulated lie — a fraud in itself.

But now a real and dangerous fraud trend emerges on America's streets, threatening public health and governance.

Everything in this age of "branding" needs a catchy label, so let’s call this one vaxx fraud. Unlike voter fraud, there is ample evidence of its viral spread. False vaccine documents have already led to far more criminal cases than claims of illegal voting did in 2020.

Nearly three weeks ago an employee of a Patchogue medical clinic was charged, in tandem with a New Jersey woman, with selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.

More scandalously, the buyers were said to include hospital and health care facility employees — whose vaccination rates as have been too low and who often work with people vulnerable to the virus.

Worse yet, this criminal scheme involved an additional "fee" of $250 to fraudulently enter the card purchasers’ names into the New York State immunization information system, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

Similar scams have been exposed elsewhere. Think about what this really means.

Vaccine-card dealers are selling local suckers what they could have for free if they go to a pharmacy and get the shot.

How much the market is fueled by anti-vaccine propaganda is a relevant question.

Illegal false entries in databases can skew the numbers on which policy decisions must be based. It can make you wonder how many "breakthrough" COVID cases might end up mislabeled when a patient wasn't vaxxed as claimed. The reliability of official information is critical.

As contraband goes, trafficking vax cards and filing false computer entries falls somewhere between phony driving documents — like in the days when anyone could get them at Times Square — and opioid sales diverted from legal stockpiles.

Odd how it plays out. Addicts buy drugs to abuse, while vaccine-card buyers avoid injections that would benefit them and others.

Vaxx fraud can damage government efforts to combat COVID just as profiteering and fake ration coupons do in wartime.

Right now the vaxx-fraud market is hot. Proof of vaccination is needed for employment and access to restaurants, gyms, and theaters.

Back in May, a 21-year-old Levittown man was charged with stealing blank vaccination cards from his job at a local pharmacy and plotting to sell them to unvaccinated friends.

It's remarkably dumb, because again: This is an item his friends could have gotten for free, without legal risk, possibly from the same store that employed him, while protecting themselves from the virus.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the agency has intercepted thousands of packages of fake cards from China that "we basically stopped keeping track, because there were so many."

Talk about profiteers working against U.S. interests.

Last month a pharmacist in Chicago was arrested for selling dozens of real CDC COVID-19 vaccination cards. The alleged crime dated back months.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said social media companies such as Facebook, which owns Instagram, must remove these trafficking opportunities from their websites, which corporate officials have said they are doing.

"The stakes are too high to tackle fake vaccination cards with whack-a-mole prosecutions," Vance said last month. "These are serious crimes with serious public safety consequences."

He was just stating the obvious.

Columnist Dan Janison's opinions are his own.