Detroit nurse allegedly stole vaccination cards and sold them on Facebook
Federal prosecutors have arrested and charged two people for selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.
Bethann Kierczak, 37, of Southgate is accused of stealing blank vaccine cards from the health system in Detroit, Virginia, where she worked as a nurse, and selling the cards on Facebook for $ 150 to $ 200. She said she was using the money to pay bills for a children’s orthodontist, according to transcripts of those Facebook posts provided by prosecutors.
According to the criminal complaint, a “confidential source” (CS) informed the Detroit VA Police Department in August that Kierczak, a registered nurse, “was forging and selling CDC-marked COVID-19 vaccination cards that she had stolen. [from the VA] to veterans and non-veterans for profit.
The source also provided copies of their Facebook Messenger conversations with Kierczak from May and June as evidence. Portions of these conversations are included in the prosecution documents and show the confidential source repeatedly urging Kierczak to obtain the vaccination cards.
May 22, 2021:
CS: “If you don’t forget to catch me about 10 of these things .. cough cough”
[winking emoji] You know”
KIERCZAK: “I’m here, I’ll do my best, this pharmacist seems to be a little
protector of cards, lol ”
CS: “OK MDR”
KIERCZAK: “But if I can’t today, I will have more chances later
CS: “It’s cool, I just wanted one for [Individual-1]”
KIERCZAK: “I will have them”
CS: “Rock star”
And June 3, 2021:
CS: “Can you get me a single vaccination card?” “
CS wrote: “Okay. [Individual-2]bother me wondering if i know anyone i said i would
Ask around you. Apparently his little mom has a PPO against him, but his aunt
Said if he had the vaccine she would bring the kids to him so he could see
KIERCZAK: “Okay, I can get him one, I need his name, surname and date of birth,
I’ll fill it out.
KIERCZAK: “So the dates must be current?” “
KIERCZAK: “Like last month?”
CS: “I will ask”
KIERCZAK: “Is this the store number after the word [sic] Green walls? “
CS: “I think so”
KIERCZAK: “Ok” Tell him I’m charging $ 150 for this, then he owes you a favor.
CS: “Damn, did you actually sell them?” “
KIERCZAK: “[Individual-3]the mom of has a friend who wanted 12, I loaded it
$ 100 each, I gave him $ 200 “
“Pain [sic] for [minor-1]the treatment of the orthodontist well the deposit … ”
In August, the confidential source contacted Kierczak again, this time to the direction of the police. These officers also had the source’s calls and an in-person conversation with Kierczak at the source’s home. In the end, Kierczak allegedly gave the source a blank vaccination card at no cost in August, then five more cards in September for $ 1,000. Kierczak returned $ 300 of that to the confidential source as a bribe, prosecutors say, and asked: “if they had anybody else interested and said” it’s ok if not because I have a few other people who want it too. “”
If convicted, the two charges against Kierczak are punishable by 10 years in prison and / or a fine. Federal prosecutors said Kierczak appeared in court on Wednesday afternoon, but were unsure whether she had retained a lawyer or who was representing her. Calls to phone numbers listed as Kierczak’s landline and cell phone went unanswered, as did a message on Facebook. A voicemail and email message to the Detroit, Virginia health care system also did not receive an immediate response.
Fake vaccination cards allegedly imported from China to Detroit
In another case, Detroit’s Rapheal Jarrell Smiley was charged with fraud and trafficking in counterfeit goods, after allegedly having fake COVID vaccine cards shipped from China. Customs officials intercepted three packages each containing around 50 fraudulent cards, according to charge documents. A Facebook account purported to be Smiley’s (“Detroit’s Own Rapheal Smiley”) appeared to advertise the cards, with captions like “Hit Me Up” and “GOING FAST FEW LEFT”.
In text messages which federal agents said were sent from Smiley’s phone, he told a contact to come and collect the cards from his home. In a conversation on August 5, 2021, Smiley commented on how widely the actual vaccine had become, according to the criminal complaint:
SMILEY: “LOL, my moms went to CVS … I went to get some milk for the cereal last week, they were at the grocery store giving it a go.”
[Unknown:] “Shit this is crazy.”
SMILEY: “Yeah that’s it, I’m just like that, cool. “
A spokesperson for the U.S. District Attorney’s Office said Smiley appeared in court on Wednesday, but was not yet sure whether he had retained a lawyer or who his attorney is. A Facebook message sent to an account of his own was not immediately responded to. The account indicated that Smiley resided in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Prosecutors say even a few fake cards ‘put everyone at risk’
So why is the federal government suing two people for what appears to amount to at most the alleged importation of 150 fake vaccination cards by Smiley and the theft of six VA vaccination cards by Kierczak? Why not focus law enforcement efforts on larger criminal networks involved in the sale of fraudulent vaccination cards?
Acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Saima S. Mohsin, said these were just two of multiple ongoing investigations into fake vaccination cards.
“While there are a number of people who have chosen not to be vaccinated, getting vaccinated with a fake or fraudulent card does pose a significant risk to the public,” Mohsin said Wednesday. “Across the country we have various employers, various state governments, the federal government, instituting requirements that people have to be vaccinated … And so when you present a fake card, you put everyone at risk. So it’s very serious conduct.
“And in the case of Bethann Kierczak, she’s a registered nurse. He is someone who must protect the public …[and] using her position, as she would have done, for profit and personal gain, puts the public at risk. We consider this to be very serious conduct.
“On the other side, we have Rapheal Smiley, an individual who acquired fake cards from China and advertises those cards on Facebook and Instagram. This is one person who, like Bethann, makes these cards widely available to people who choose to defraud their employers or universities or anyone into believing they are safe when they are not. .