- The Justice Department has charged 21 people in connection with alleged COVID-19 fraud schemes.
- Prosecutors said a man told undercover agents that he sold fake vaccination cards to Olympians.
- The man repeatedly bragged about the quality of his cards, which bore the CDC logo, prosecutors say.
As he made the sale in September 2021, Robert Van Camp couldn’t help but admire his handiwork: fake COVID-19 vaccination cards made with the “real paper” and bearing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention logo.
“Pretty fucking nice, 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 Olympians. “And like I said, I’m in 12 or 13 states, so until I get caught and go to jail, fuck it. I’m taking the money!” he added, with a laugh. “I don’t care.”
That time has come for Van Camp. On Tuesday, the 53-year-old Colorado businessman was arrested on charges he conspired to defraud the United States and trafficked in counterfeit goods, becoming one of the 21 people accused in the past week of fraud connected to COVID-19.
The Justice Department noted Van Camp’s case on Wednesday as it announced a bundle of COVID-related fraud prosecutions against physicians, marketers, and owners of medical businesses, among others. The cases involve more than $149 million in allegedly false billings to federal programs and theft from federal assistance programs, the Justice Department said.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite, the 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 accountable medical professionals, corporate executives, and others who have placed greed above care during an exclusive public health emergency.”
In another case, the Justice Department charged a New Jersey woman, Lisa Hammell, with selling at least 400 fraudulent vaccination cards to unvaccinated people while working at the postal service. In a federal court in California, a Texas man was charged with offering fake 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 coconspirator — unidentified in the court records — who had a top secret security clearance.
To conceal his scheme, prosecutors said, Van Camp referred to the cards by code names — such as “gift card” and “restaurant gift card” — and urged buyers to do the same. Van Camp made thousands of dollars off the scheme, according to prosecutors, and sent fake vaccination cards as recently as early April to an undercover agent who asked for “gift cards.”
In the course of the investigation, federal agents searched Van Camp’s trash and discovered a list of buyers. Van Camp’s customers included federal employees who were required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, prosecutors said.
With a second undercover agent, prosecutors said, Van Camp claimed that his fake vaccination cards “have been to the Olympics, Honduras, Costa Rice, Canada, France, Turks and Caicos, twelve different states, so my cards are fucking worldwide.”
“I mean, these things are gold,” he said, according to the complaint. In total, Van Camp sold hundreds of cards, some at $175 apiece.
Justice Department officials declined to comment on whether prosecutors had verified that Van Camp sold to athletes who participated in the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2021.
In court documents, prosecutors quoted statements in which Van Camp expressed frustration with inaccuracy requirements and framed his work as “good versus evil.”
“I’m not making cards ’cause I’m bored, I’m making cards ’cause I’m in the middle of a fucking war and I, and I have a lot of guns and ammo, like an arsenal,” he told one of the undercover agents, according to the court papers.
Van Camp could not immediately be reached for comment. He’s set to make an initial court appearance in Seattle on May 10.