Naturopathic Doctor Allegedly Sold Fake COVID Vaccine Cards and Bogus Pellets Promising 'Lifelong Immunity'
"This defendant allegedly defrauded and endangered the public by preying on fears and spreading misinformation about FDA-authorized vaccinations," Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said
A naturopathic doctor in California faces federal charges for allegedly falsifying COVID-19 vaccination cards and selling pellets she claimed without evidence would provide "lifetime immunity" to the disease, PEOPLE confirms.
According to a statement from the Department of Justice, 41-year-old Juli A. Mazi was arrested Wednesday on one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters.
The case is the first federal criminal fraud prosecution related to fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards.
"This defendant 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 O. Monaco said in a news release. "Even worse, the defendant allegedly created counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards and instructed her customers to falsely mark that they had received a vaccine, allowing them to circumvent efforts to contain the spread of the disease."
Federal authorities allege they received a tip about Mazi in April. A person came forward and informed officials Mazi had allegedly sold homeoprophylaxis pellets to members of their family.
Mazi, the statement adds, told clients that the pellets contained the COVID-19 virus, and that they would create an antibody response in the immune system.
Along with the pellets, Mazi allegedly provided clients with COVID-19 vaccination cards. Mazi also allegedly instructed the clients to fill out the cards, and with what dates, to falsely reflect that they had received both doses of the Moderna vaccine.
She allegedly told her customers the pellets provided "lifelong immunity to COVID-19."
"Mazi offered homeoprophylaxis immunizations for childhood illnesses that she falsely claimed would satisfy the immunization requirements for California schools, and falsified immunization cards that were submitted by parents to California schools," reads the statement. "Homeoprophylaxis involves the exposure of an individual to dilute amounts of a disease, purportedly to stimulate the immune system and confer immunity. Mazi is alleged to have falsely claimed that orally ingesting pellets with small amounts of COVID-19 would result in full lifelong immunity from COVID-19."
The statement further alleges Mazi exploited "disinformation and fear by falsely claiming that the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines contain 'toxic ingredients.'"
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In addition, authorities allege "Mazi further stated that her customers could provide the pellets to children for COVID-19 immunity, and that the 'dose is actually the same for babies.'"
PEOPLE was unable to reach Mazi for comment.
Though developing COVID-19 after getting fully vaccinated is rare, some infections within a large population are possible and "expected," the Centers for Disease Control say, as the vaccines are not 100% effective against the virus. Those cases — called breakthrough infections — are typically asymptomatic, and fully vaccinated people are much better protected against severe illness from COVID-19 that could lead to hospitalization or death. Only a tiny fraction of fully vaccinated people, around 0.00003%, have been hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the CDC.
It was unclear Friday if Mazi had entered pleas to the charges, or had an attorney who could comment on her behalf.
Multiple large-scale studies have found that vaccines are safe. There is no scientific link between vaccines and autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control.