Fines, 5 years in prison possible for those using fake COVID-19 vaccination cards

Coronavirus Vaccine

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As more places require proof of vaccines, more fake vaccination cards are turning up, and real criminal consequences can follow their use.

State and federal leaders are cracking down on people making and selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.

The FBI said anyone caught using one will face charges.

You can buy them online. One Twitter account called “vaccinationcard” said it’s selling them for $25. It then takes you to the Telegram app where you’re prompted to send a message.

“It shows that you’ve been vaccinated and when you got vaccinated, too, and your first and second dose,” Daniel Schur said when showed a fake card.

“It’s dumb, why would you get a fake vaccine card when you could get it for free,” Evan Cogley said.

Earlier this year, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody called on eBay, Shopify and Twitter to stop scammers from selling fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards on their platforms.

A letter from Moody and other attorneys general reads, “These deceptive cards threaten the health of our communities, slow progress in getting people protected from the virus and violate many state laws.”

Hundreds of colleges are requiring proof of vaccination, and there’s growing concern that students will get their hands on fake vaccination cards. The FBI says you’re breaking the law if you make or buy a fake.

“Misrepresenting yourself as being vaccinated and going into houses of worship, going into gyms, going into schools. It’s not only putting you at risk, but it’s also putting others at risk,” Public Affairs Specialist for the FBI Kansas City Division Bridget Patton said.

A FBI spokeswoman said using a government agency seal without permission is illegal, and you could face a fine and or up to five years in prison. 

In July, the U.S. Department of Justice announced its first federal criminal fraud prosecution involving a fake COVID-19 immunization and vaccination card scheme. Juli A. Mazi, 41, a naturopathic physician in Napa, California, was arrested and charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters.

Court documents allege she sold fake vaccination cards to customers that appeared to show that they had received Moderna vaccines. In some cases, the documents show Mazi herself filled out the cards, writing her own name, and purported Moderna “lot numbers” for a vaccine she had not in fact administered. For other customers, she provided blank CDC COVID-19 vaccination record cards and told each customer to write that she had administered a Moderna vaccine with a specified lot number.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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