eBay has become a haven for sports card enthusiasts and other collectors acting as a veritable stock exchange for valuable collectibles. However, not everything that happens on eBay is legal. For example, if you place a bid on your own item or bid up items you have no intention of purchasing, you are committing a felony known as shill bidding. As another example, if you try to sell vaccination cards on eBay, you can be charged with 12 counts of stealing government property.
Chicago pharmacist Tangtang Zhao sold 125 vaccination cards to 11 buyers for about $10 per card. While not quite as lucrative as a Mantle rookie, Zhao pulled in roughly $1,000 from the fraud and will now face charges before a federal magistrate.
When discussing the charges, federal authorities were appalled at the low price Zhao got for the vaccination cards. According to a spokesperson for the FBI, “To put such a small price on the safety of our nation is not only an insult to those who are doing their part in the fight to stop COVID-19, but a federal crime with serious consequences.”
Theft of Government Property
Theft of government property is a federal crime meaning that the charges are filed by federal agents and the case is tried before a federal judge. In this case, the crime is always related to the amount of money or other property stolen. Here, the pharmacist was only able to get a paltry $1,000 or so for his cards, but luckily for the federal government, that’s enough for felony charges. If the amount of money he earned from scalping vax cards on eBay was less than $1,000 he would only be facing a misdemeanor.
Unfortunately for the defendant, any money he earned in vax cards will need to be paid back to the federal government who can charge him up to $100,000 for theft of less than $1,000. For felony charges like the one the defendant faces, he could face maximum prison sentences of up to 10 years for each illicit sale.
Adding Up the Charges
Criminal defense attorneys generally have some success reducing charges relative to the amount of money stolen. In this case, the defendant does not deserve to serve a 120-year sentence for scalping vax cards. The total purse from the crime was just over $1,000, which means that he is technically eligible for felony charges, but only barely.
The biggest problem for the defendant is that he, as a medical employee, was subverting the good work of all those who spent sleepless nights engineering a vaccine, and the fine folks at the CDC who are working overtime to keep us all safe, and of course, our front line workers, some of whom have died fighting the virus. They may try to make an example of him if they are so inclined since the consequences of such activities put everyone at risk. Another option would be to pass legislation that increased penalties for health care— or pandemic—related documentation.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been accused of scalping vax cards online, then you are in a vulnerable position. The medical community is going to be upset and the feds are going to want to make an example of you. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 and allow us to begin preparing your defense immediately.