According to a press release from the New York state district attorney’s office, Jasmine Clifford, 31, a self-described entrepreneur from Lyndhurst, New Jersey, is accused of selling approximately 250 fake COVID-19 vaccination cards on Instagram, charging $200 per card. She’s also charged with falsely entering at least 10 people into New York state’s vaccine database for an additional $250, data which was transferred to New York state’s official Excelsior pass system.
Clifford, who also went by the handle @5starjazziiii and had more than 300,000 followers, is facing charges of criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree, offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, and conspiracy in the fifth degree. An alleged co-conspirator Nadayza Barkley, 27, is facing similar charges, allegedly for using her position as a medical clinic worker in Patchogue, New York to enter names into the New York State vaccine database.
According to a video by TikToker @tizzyent, who exposed Clifford last week, Clifford was notorious for spreading anti-vaccine sentiment on her multiple accounts. “DM for religious exemption letters,” said the bio of one of her accounts. Posing as a Walgreen’s employee, @tizzyent approached Clifford, who allegedly explained that she had hired a woman in New York state to fraudulently enter people into New York’s vaccine system; and that this woman was making $10,000 per week. According to a comment posted by Clifford, she believed that mandatory vaccinations were part of the “LGBTQ agenda.”
In addition to Clifford and Barkley, thirteen other people who have not been publicly identified by the district attorney’s office have also been charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument for buying the cards. Horrifyingly, most of these people are believed to be frontline workers, such as hospital or nursing home employees. Earlier this month, then-Governor Cuomo issued a mandate requiring all New York state health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September.
It’s unclear how the ring managed to survive for so long on Instagram, a platform that has ostensibly been cracking down on anti-vaccine sentiment. In a statement, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. appeared to squarely take aim at Facebook, which owns Instagram. “We will continue to safeguard public health in New York with proactive investigations like these, but the stakes are too high to tackle fake vaccination cards with whack-a-mole prosecutions,” said District Attorney Vance. “We need companies like Facebook to take action to prevent the fraud happening on their platforms.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Facebook said, ““We prohibit anyone from buying or selling fake – or even genuine – COVID-19 vaccine cards. We removed Ms. Clifford’s account at the beginning of August for breaking our rules, and we will review any other accounts that might be doing the same thing. We appreciate the DA’s work on this matter and will remove this content whenever we find it.” The spokesperson did not clarify which of Clifford’s accounts had been removed.