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Press Release

Pharmacist Convicted of Stealing and Selling COVID-19 Cards

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A federal jury in Chicago convicted an Illinois pharmacist on Friday for stealing and selling COVID-19 vaccination cards.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, pharmacist Tangtang Zhao, 36, of Chicago, stole CDC-issued COVID-19 vaccination cards from the pharmacy where he worked, and sold them to buyers across the country through an online marketplace. Zhao and other pharmacists administered COVID-19 vaccinations to the public, and therefore Zhao had access to vaccination cards at the pharmacy. During a three-week timeframe in March and April 2021, Zhao posted listings for over 650 COVID-19 vaccination cards that he advertised as “authentic” and “straight from the CDC.” In total, he sold 630 cards to approximately 200 unique buyers, who paid Zhao more than $5,600.  

The jury convicted Zhao of 12 counts of theft of government property. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 28 and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Christian J. Schrank of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) made the announcement.

The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case.

Trial Attorneys Claire Sobczak and Victor Yanz of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case. Assistant Chief Leslie S. Garthwaite investigated the case.

Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at

Updated June 26, 2023

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 23-700