Maryland man faces federal charges for selling fraudulent COVID-19 cards through the mail

FILE - In this Dec. 24, 2020, file photo, a COVID-19 vaccination record card is shown at Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)(AP/Jeff Chiu)

A Maryland man has been charged after he allegedly sent fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards through the mail, according to authorities.

A criminal complaint was filed charging Amar Salim Shabazz, 23, of Owings Mills, for the federal charges of mail fraud and obstruction of justice in connection with his alleged distribution of fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.

According to the criminal complaint, since June 2021, Shabazz purchased over 600 fraudulent COVID-19 vaccinations cards through a foreign online marketplace and had the cards illegally shipped into the U.S., the release said.

Once Shabazz received the fake vaccination cards, he advertised them for sale on several popular social media platforms and distributed them through the United Parcel Service, according to the press release.

The complaint alleges that Shabazz ordered over 600 vaccination cards on multiple occasions which were delivered to his Owings Mills home.

According to the complaint, on June 10, Shabazz allegedly searched the phrase “fake covid vaccination record card” and viewed a video titled, “Scammers Work to Sell Fake Covid Vaccination Cards Online,” the release said.

Several days later, Shabazz placed an order with a foreign website for COVID-19 vaccination cards to be shipped to “MAR S,” with Shabazz’s number listed as the recipient, according to the release.

On July 10, after the shipment was delivered, Shabazz posted a video of multiple fraudulent vaccination cards on two of his social media accounts with the caption “Covid19 vaccination card who want one. $75 a pop,” according to the release.

On Aug. 5, Shabazz commented under an article about bars and restaurants requiring guests to show proof of vaccination, allegedly stating “I SELL PROOF OF VACCINATION CARDS,” the release said.

Five days later, Shabazz posted, “I’m sold out right now no more vax cards until next week.” Additionally, Shabazz allegedly messaged anther individual with the message, “Made 300 today. I’m sold out. Just bought 500 more cards. 60×500 is $30k. I’m gonna be rich.”

According to the release, on Aug. 19, CBP officers seized a shipment sent to Shabazz’s address with the name, “MAR SHA” and Shabazz’s telephone number. The carrier’s website noted the package had been delayed at U.S. Customs. Shabazz then allegedly searched the phrase “customs inspection packages VACCINATION cards” and viewed a video titled, “FBI investigating fake vaccination cards.”

As detailed in the complaint, Shabazz placed another order for cards with the foreign website that was delivered to his residence on Aug. 31. This package had Shabazz’s cell phone number associated with it and was addressed to “ACE BOOGIE.” Shabazz then allegedly posted a picture of the fraudulent vaccination cards on a social media platform, selling them from $70 per card.

Investigators subsequently interviewed multiple individuals outside Maryland to whom Shabazz sold fake COVID-19 vaccination cards and recovered the fake cards. Shabazz allegedly shipped these individuals’ fraudulent vaccination cards through the mail.

On Oct. 1, law enforcement executed search warrants at a basement used by Shabazz and in the basement, law enforcement found a bulleted list titled, “Things I’m doing when I get out (updated).”

In early 2021, Shabazz served time after being sentenced in the Circuit Court of Maryland for possession of child pornography and was released in April, according to the release. The day after the search warrants were executed at his residence, Shabazz allegedly researched how to delete his account on the foreign marketplace website and deleted his email account.

If convicted, Shabazz faces a maximum sentence of 20 years of  incarceration each for mail fraud and for obstruction of justice.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up