POMONA, Calif. (KTLA) — A California man was charged Wednesday with allegedly stealing hundreds of blank COVID-19 vaccine cards from the Pomona Fairplex mass inoculation site where he worked.
Muhammad Rauf Ahmed, 45, was charged with one felony count of grand theft, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. Ahmed, a non-clinical contract worker from Las Vegas, is accused of stealing the cards on April 27 from the Pomona site.
“Detectives responded and determined that the suspect had stolen blank COVID-19 vaccine cards and put them in his car,” La Verne police said in a news release Tuesday announcing his arrest. “While conducting follow-up, detectives located more blank COVID-19 vaccine cards in the suspect’s hotel room.”
Ahmed allegedly took 528 cards in total.
“Selling fraudulent and stolen vaccine cards is illegal, immoral and puts the public at risk of exposure to a deadly virus,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a written statement.
When sold illegally, each COVID-19 vaccine card has a value of at least $15, prosecutors noted.
California’s Attorney General Rob Bonta had warned residents last month not to print fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards at home and not to purchase counterfeits.
“These counterfeit records undermine the health and safety of Californians and are also illegal,” Bonta said in a consumer alert warning. “I advise you to get your COVID-19 vaccination and the authentic vaccination record that reflects you were vaccinated. Please do not purchase a fraudulent record, do not make your own, and do not fill in blank vaccination record cards with false information.”
Vaccines and vaccination cards are offered at no cost, and anyone 12 and older is now eligible to get inoculated in California.
Arraignment for Ahmed is scheduled for Aug. 25. The case remains under investigation by the La Verne Police Department.