SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A naturopathic physician in Northern California has been arrested and charged after federal prosecutors said she sold fake COVID-19 immunization treatments and fraudulent vaccination cards that made it seem like customers received Moderna vaccines.

Juli A. Mazi, 41, of Napa, was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement Wednesday.

The case is the first federal criminal fraud prosecution related to homeoprophylaxis immunizations and fraudulent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 vaccination cards, the department said.

More on the COVID-19 pandemic

Prosecutors scolded Mazi for peddling fake medical information and seeding skepticism at a time when health officials are pleading with the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The pandemic and the vaccines have generated deep divisions in the country, with some saying they don’t trust the shots and won’t get inoculated.

Federal prosecutors say Mazi sold homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets she fraudulently claimed would provide “lifelong immunity to COVID-19.” She told customers the pellets contained small amounts of the virus and would create an antibody response, prosecutors said.

Advertising

The investigation was prompted by a complaint in April to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General hotline.

“According to the complaint, instead of disseminating valid remedies and information, Juli Mazi profited from unlawfully peddling unapproved remedies, stirring up false fears, and generating fake proof of vaccinations,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds for the Northern District of California.

It was not immediately known if Mazi had a lawyer who could speak on her behalf. A phone message to her office in Napa was not immediately returned.