An undercover sting netted a pair of Long Island nurses for allegedly selling a vaccination card and entering false information into New York's vaccination database, a scheme that made them more than $1.5 million, according to Suffolk County district attorney's office, The New York Times reported.
The nurses are alleged to have sold the vaccine cards, forged them, and filed vaccination status for patients who they never administered the vaccine to.
The cards were allegedly sold by Wild Child Pediatric Healthcare's Julie DeVuono, 49, and her employee Marissa Urraro, 44, who charged $220 for adults and $85 for children, according to prosecutors.
"We look forward to highlighting the legal impediments and defects in this investigation," Urraro's lawyer Michael Alber told the Times. "An accusation should not overshadow the good work Ms. Urraro has done for children and adults in the medical field."
A lawyer for DeVuono could not be reached for comment, according to the report.
"I hope this sends a message to others who are considering gaming the system that they will get caught and that we will enforce the law to the fullest extent," Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney wrote in a statement to the Times.
The operation was uncovered by an undercover detective who paid for the filled out vaccination card for an immunization that was not administered, according to the report.
An investigation of DeVuono's home seized around $900,000 in cash and documents suggesting the fake vaccination scheme made $1.5 million from November to January, prosecutors say.
"As nurses, these two individuals should understand the importance of legitimate vaccination cards as we all work together to protect public health," Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison told the Times in a statement.
There have been cases in South Carolina and Michigan that have busted vaccine scammers last fall, too.
"The proliferation of fake COVID-19 vaccination cards can jeopardize efforts to address the ongoing public health emergency," Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Yvonne Gamble told the Times. "Therefore, we encourage the public to obtain valid proof of COVID-19 vaccination from their administering medical providers instead of creating fake vaccination cards or purchasing them from unauthorized sources."
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