State A.G. requests local court to investigate vaccine scammer

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published September 17, 2021

 This photo was posted to a Macomb County chat group where a user named Kristin Holliday was allegedly selling blank vaccine cards on the marketplace website for $25.

This photo was posted to a Macomb County chat group where a user named Kristin Holliday was allegedly selling blank vaccine cards on the marketplace website for $25.

Screenshot provided by Michigan Department of Attorney General

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MACOMB COUNTY — A petition signed by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel emphasizes that, during the pandemic, the state has seen a growing trend where fraudsters take a grassroots approach by infiltrating neighborhood chat groups.

A recent case involves one such group in Macomb County.

On Aug. 31, it was announced that Nessel requested Macomb County Circuit Court to authorize an investigation into a COVID-19 vaccination card scammer.

A press release from the Attorney General’s Office states that a petition was filed seeking authorization to issue a subpoena to Facebook to learn the identity of an apparent scammer who claimed to be selling blank coronavirus vaccination cards in an online marketplace.

“The filing, made under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, details how a fake persona was used to solicit buyers on Mom2MomSwap-Macomb County. The solicitation has since been removed from the site,” the release states.

On Aug. 9, Nessel received an email from a Michigan resident who indicates that someone named Kristin Holliday was selling blank vaccine cards on the marketplace website for $25.

The Aug. 26 petition from the state office was prompted by a complaint about the blank cards, filed by a Macomb County resident with the Department’s Consumer Protection team.

“The special agent investigating the matter determined the identity in the Facebook profile, claiming to be someone named Kristin Holliday, was itself a fake,” the release states. “The profile contained stock photos, including one commonly used to advertise Hawaiian vacations.”

The petition indicates that the true identity of the respondent in this matter is unknown.

“The purpose of this investigation is to ascertain the unknown respondent’s true identity,” the petition cites.

Nessel said this case is a warning to those who take a shot at buying or selling fake vaccination cards in Michigan.

The petition asks the county court to issue an order authorizing an investigation that will begin with a subpoena to Facebook for information about the person creating the online profile.

A special agent in the case discovered that the Facebook page is less than two years old, contains scant information and has no linked friends.

The agent observed that it contains just enough information to give a superficial impression of being the page of a real person.

“But, in his professional experience, it bears all the hallmarks of being a fake profile created for the purpose of committing fraud,” the petition states.

It concludes that, based on this investigation, it appears the Kristin Holliday persona was created not to undermine the public health, but to financially exploit Macomb County residents.

In an order submitted with the petition, Nessel would then have discretion to issue additional subpoenas based on what is learned from Facebook.

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