(The Center Square) – More businesses and schools are requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination, but scammers have stepped up to take advantage by selling counterfeit vaccine cards.
FBI spokesperson Jillian Kaehler says using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card or selling one can land you in prison.
“Utilizing fake cards or creating them potentially results in wire fraud charges as well as the abuse of a government seal,” Kaeler said.
A person who is convicted of wire fraud faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years, Kaehler said. Violators who are convicted of wire fraud also incur very substantive fines. The fine for counterfeiting the government seal that is on the COVID-19 vaccination card is $250,000.
“If someone is multiplying cards and making bulk amounts of these cards, that is a lot of money in fines that can add up very quickly, as well as additional prison sentences,” Kaehler said.
In July, a California doctor was arrested by the FBI for selling fake COVID-19 vaccine cards, Kaehler said.
Counterfeiting a COVID-19 vaccine card is a felony because it involves tampering with an official government seal.
“It all comes down to people taking advantage of that government seal, which carries a lot of trust. We do not want to see the unauthorized use of that seal,” Kaehler said. “People who are faking vaccine cards – creating them and duplicating them – that is a crime, and we will not stand for that.”
The FBI is also warning people not to take pictures of their vaccination cards and post the pictures on social media.
“They contain a lot of personal information, such as your date of birth and your insurance. That can all be used to steal your identity,” Kaehler said.
Kaehler advises people to report instances fake vaccine cards and sales. File a report with the FBI by calling 1-800-CALL FBI. The FBI also takes reports anonymously on the website tips.fbi.gov.