- The Justice Department has charged 21 people in connection with alleged COVID-19 fraud schemes.
- Prosecutors said a man told undercover agents he sold fake vaccination cards to Olympians.
- The man repeatedly bragged about the quality of his cards, which bore the CDC logo, prosecutors said.
At the sale in September 2021, Robert Van Camp couldn’t help but admire his work: fake COVID-19 vaccination cards made with “real paper” and bearing the logo of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Alright, huh? I call them a work of art,” Van Camp told his buyer — an undercover federal agent — according to court records.
Van Camp claimed to have sold to the Olympians. “And like I said, I’m in 12 or 13 states, so until I get caught and go to jail, shit. I’m taking the money!” he added, laughing. “I do not care.”
That time has come for Van Camp. The 53-year-old Colorado businessman was arrested on Tuesday on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and trafficking in counterfeit goods, becoming one of 21 people charged last week with fraud related to the COVID-19.
The Justice Department took notice of Van Camp’s case on Wednesday as it announced a slew of COVID-related fraud lawsuits against doctors, marketers and medical business owners, among others. The cases involve more than $149 million in bogus billings to federal programs and theft from federal pandemic relief programs, the Justice Department said.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite, Senate-confirmed head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said the coordinated enforcement action “reinforces our commitment to using all available tools to hold healthcare professionals accountable.” , corporate leaders and others who put greed above care during an unprecedented public health emergency.”
In another case, the Justice Department accused a New Jersey woman, Lisa Hammell, of selling at least 400 fraudulent vaccination cards to unvaccinated people while working for the Postal Service. In federal court in California, a Texas man has been charged with offering false cures for COVID-19 and distributing fake vaccination cards.
In Van Camp’s case, federal prosecutors alleged he sold fake COVID-19 vaccination cards to at least four undercover agents after obtaining an electronic copy of a blank card. Prosecutors said Van Camp carried out the scheme with a co-conspirator – unidentified in court records – who had a top-secret security clearance.
To cover up his scheme, prosecutors said, Van Camp referred to the cards by codenames — such as “gift card” and “restaurant gift card” — and urged shoppers to do the same. Van Camp earned thousands of dollars from the scheme, prosecutors say, and sent fake vaccination cards as recently as early April to an undercover agent who asked for “gift cards.”
During the investigation, federal agents searched Van Camp’s dumpsters and discovered a list of buyers. Van Camp’s clients included federal employees who needed to be vaccinated against COVID-19, prosecutors said.
Along with a second undercover agent, prosecutors said, Van Camp claimed his fake vaccination cards “have been to the Olympics, Honduras, Costa Rice, Canada, France, the Turks and Caicos Islands, in twelve different states, so my maps are fucking worldwide.
“I mean, those things are gold,” he said, according to the complaint. In total, Van Camp sold hundreds of cards, some for $175 each.
Justice Department officials declined to say whether prosecutors verified that Van Camp was sold to athletes who competed in the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2021.
In court papers, prosecutors cited statements in which Van Camp expressed frustration with vaccination requirements and called his work “good versus evil.”
“I don’t make maps because I’m bored, I make maps because I’m in the middle of a fucking war and I have, and I have a lot of weapons and ammunition, like an arsenal “he said one of the undercover officers, according to court documents.
Van Camp could not immediately be reached for comment. He is due to appear for the first time in court in Seattle on May 10.