Chicago Pharmacist Arrested for Selling COVID-19 Vaccination Cards for $10 Each

A Chicago pharmacist has been arrested for allegedly selling hundreds of COVID-19 CDC vaccination cards for $10 each on eBay, the Department of Justice announced.

On Monday, Tangtang Zhao, 34, was taken into custody and charged with 12 counts of theft of government property. Zhao appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila M. Finnegan of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on August 17 for his initial hearing. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Between March and April 2021, Zhao allegedly obtained and sold 125 COVID-19 CDC vaccination cards to 11 different buyers on eBay, charging $10 per card, according to court documents. Zhao was a licensed pharmacist in Illinois and worked at Company 1, which is a pharmacy that distributed and administered the COVID-19 vaccine. Per CDC guidelines, Company 1 provided a CDC Vaccination Record Card to each vaccine recipient.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department's Criminal Division stated that Zhao's crimes are being thoroughly investigated under the court of law.

Stock image of Mask and COVID Card
A Chicago pharmacist has been arrested for allegedly selling hundreds of authentic COVID-19 CDC vaccination cards for $10 each on eBay. This stock image shows a CDC vaccination card and a protective face mask.

"We take seriously, and will vigorously investigate, any criminal offense that contributes to the distrust around vaccines and vaccination status," Polite Jr. said in a statement. "The Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting the American people from these offenses during this national emergency."

Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. of the FBI's Chicago Field Office said that Zhao's crimes put millions of Americans in jeopardy due to the ongoing pandemic.

"Knowingly selling COVID vaccination cards to unvaccinated individuals puts millions of Americans at risk of serious injury or death," Buie Jr. said in another statement. "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."

Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Chicago Region stressed the importance of only getting a COVID-19 vaccination card from their medical provider.

"Stealing and selling COVID-19 vaccination cards is inexcusable and will not be tolerated," said Pugh in a press statement. "Fraudsters who engage in such unlawful conduct undermine efforts to address the pandemic and profit at the public's expense. The health and safety of the public is our top priority," Pugh said.