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FBI warns against buying, selling and using fake COVID-19 vaccine cards

COVID-19 vaccination card
Posted at 2:53 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-30 14:54:38-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — As the delta variant makes its way across the country, some are trying to skip the vaccine and buy fake vaccine cards to get into businesses, schools, jobs and other venues.

Earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced it had seized more than 3,000 fake vaccine cards in recent months.

Brooke Brennan with the Tucson Bureau of the FBI says the number of incidents involving fake cards is growing.

"We're just warning the public about the dangers of the fraudulent COVID-19 fake cards and other COVID scams," Brennan said. "We really want people to notice it, and if they see an individual or website selling COVID-19 vaccine cards that they need to report it to us."

Such cards can be available for purchase online or on social media. The National Association of Attorneys General recently sent a letter to the CEOs of Twitter, Shopify and eBay asking them to monitor and take down ads for fake cards.

Others are going to the so-called "dark web" for access to fake proof of vaccination.

"We're seeing these reports all across the country, so we really want to get ahead of it and try to make sure people are aware," Brennan said.

According to cyber security company Checkpoint, on average, the cards can cost buyers between $100 to $120 dollars each. Meanwhile, the FBI says using fake documents can put others at risk of getting COVID-19 from people who claim to be vaccinated.

Officials are also warning vaccinated individuals from posting their cards on social media. Those that did should delete their posts immediately.

"That card has your name, date of birth, what vaccine you got, where you got it and sometimes your insurance information," Brennan said.

Those caught buying, selling or using fake cards can face $5,000 in fines and up to five years in prison for unauthorized use of a government agency seal.

"Overall, if you didn't get the vaccine, don't buy a fake vaccine card, don't make fake vaccine cards and don't fill in blank vaccine cards with fake information," Brennan said.

To report sites selling fake vaccine cards, visit the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.

FBI COMPLAINT CENTER LINKS:

https://www.ic3.gov/media/y2021/psa210330

https://blog.checkpoint.com/2021/08/10/black-market-for-fake-vaccine-certificates-reaches-new-peaks-while-delta-variant-keeps-spreading-globally/

https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Files/Briefing-Room/News-Releases/NAAG/NAAG-Vaccine-Cards-Letter-FINAL.aspx

This story was originally published by Shawndrea Thomas on Scripps station KGUN in Tucson Arizona.