Mass vaccination center worker faces up to three years in prison after being accused of stealing more than 500 blank vaccine cards worth $10,000
- Muhammad Rauf Ahmed is accused of stealing 528 blank vaccine cards from the Pomona Fairplex vaccination site where he worked
- He was seen leaving the center with a pile of cards in his hand before 128 were found in his car
- A search of his hotel room revealed another 400 cards, still wrapped in plastic
- Ahmed said he took the cards home to ‘pre-fill’ to get ahead of his workload, La Verne police said
- Venues easing restrictions on those who can prove they have been vaccinated have fueled a demand for fake vaccine cards on the black market
- Ahmed will appear in the Pomona Courthouse on August 25
An employee at a mass vaccination site in Los Angeles County has been accused of stealing more than 500 blank Covid-19 vaccine cards worth $10,000.
Muhammad Rauf Ahmed, 45, is on trial for a major charge of theft of a total of 528 cards.
He is due to appear in Pomona’s courthouse on August 25 and could face up to three years in prison if convicted.
On April 27, police received a call regarding a possible theft at the Pomona Fairplex vaccination site in La Verne, where Ahmed, of Nevada, worked as a non-clinical contract worker.
It came after a security guard at the site saw Ahmed leave with a stack of cards in his hands, La Verne police said.
Blank cards were found in his car and about 400 more were later discovered in his hotel room.
A security guard at the site saw Ahmed leave with a stack of cards in his hands, La Verne police said. Blank cards were found in his car and about 400 more were later discovered in his hotel room
Muhammad Rauf Ahmed, 45, faces major charge for theft of a total of 528 cards28
“Selling fraudulent and stolen vaccine cards is illegal, immoral and exposes the public to a deadly virus,” Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón said when he announced the charges against Ahmed.
Deputy Sergeant Cory Leeper said Ahmed initially claimed he took the cards to “prefill” them in order to get ahead of his workload.
“That was not allowed and no one was aware of it,” Leeper says.
“He didn’t get permission to do that. It was intentional what he did by taking these cards to his hotel room.’
Leeper added that the stacks of cards found in Ahmed’s hotel room were still sealed in plastic.
He said investigators were looking at another vaccine passport case to determine the value of the cards Ahmed was believed to have taken.
In May, a bar owner was arrested on suspicion of selling fake vaccine cards for $20 each. He was charged with identity theft and forging a government seal.
“Assessing fair market value is difficult because you could say it was just a blank sheet of paper,” Leeper said, referring to Ahmed’s case.
At $20 each, the cards found in Ahmed’s possession would be worth about $10,000.
The case is still under investigation by the La Verne Police Department.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the site where Ahmed worked will close on Sunday as the province will use more mobile clinics in an effort to reach more people as the admission slows.
The FBI has warned that selling fake cards with a government logo is a crime.
Many venues reopening with limited capacity have eased restrictions on those who can prove they have been vaccinated, fueling the growth of an underground market for fake vaccine cards.