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Homeopathic doctor sold fake vaccine cards and ‘immunization pellets,’ prosecutors say

Physical coronavirus vaccination cards are the main proof of inoculation across much of the United States. (Rachel Wisniewski for The Washington Post)

A California homeopathic doctor who was arrested Wednesday has become the first person to face federal fraud charges related to allegedly selling fake vaccines and cards.

Juli A. Mazi, 41, sold “immunization pellets” that she claimed would provide “lifelong immunity” to covid, telling customers the purported treatments contained trace amounts of the disease, according to the Justice Department. She falsely claimed the coronavirus vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration contained “toxic ingredients,” U.S. prosecutors said Wednesday.

Mazi, a resident of Napa, Calif., also allegedly sent several clients vaccine cards that made it look like she had administered Moderna doses to them. Other customers were instructed to fill out their own cards, investigators said.

It was not clear if Mazi had legal representation. A message left with her office was not immediately returned.

The Moderna lot numbers used on the cards were genuine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed to federal investigators. But the CDC and the California Department of Public Health have no record of Mazi receiving or administering FDA-authorized vaccines.

“Even though it’s more than an ethical stretch that I’m happy about, I am just stepping up to the plate to offer these,” Mazi said in a recorded phone call, according to investigators.

Mazi “allegedly defrauded and endangered the public by preying on fears and spreading misinformation about FDA-authorized vaccinations, while also peddling fake treatments that put people’s lives at risk,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement.

“Even worse,” Monaco added, the counterfeit vaccine cards allowed customers to “circumvent efforts to contain the spread” of the virus.

Federal authorities learned of the alleged scheme in April from a person whose family members had purchased homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets from Mazi, the complaint said.

The remedy, which involves exposure to small amounts of a disease to try building immunity, is “very different” from standard models for immune development like approved vaccines, according to a 2015 article in the medical journal Paediatrics & Child Health.

Mazi provided the tipster’s family members with vaccine cards and instructed them to write that they received Moderna shots on the date they ingested the pellets, according to prosecutors. She did not administer doses of the three U.S.-approved coronavirus vaccines to those people.

After the tipster bought pellets over the phone from Mazi for $243, the homeopathic doctor allegedly said the same dosage of pellets could be used for babies, adding they could be used to help circumvent other school vaccine mandates in California.

Prosecutors allege Mazi gave the tipster’s family members a letter about the pellets, which stated that “because this is an energy medicine, people can sometimes experience an energetic response, like a mild immune response similar to those symptoms which the disease might provoke.”

It also warned against touching the pellets, “as the medicines can rub off on your fingers.”

Between January 2020 and May 21, 2021, Mazi received $221,817 in payments on Square, a digital payment processor, investigators found. While most of the transactions did not specify what the payments were for, 25 transactions totaling $7,653 were noted as payments for covid treatments.

Articles on Mazi’s website promote how “herbs and spices” can be used to help treat liver ailments. The website presents her as a primary care provider who treats conditions from ear infections to ADHD to autoimmune disorders.

The owner of a bar in California’s Central Valley was arrested in May on state charges including alleged identity theft and the forging of government documents.

Fraudulent vaccine cards have also been spotted on online platforms like eBay. Though several countries around the world have issued digital “vaccine passports,” paper cards remain the main proof of vaccination across much of the United States.