How Much Trouble Can You Really Get Into If You Make or Use a Fake Vaccination Card?
As requirements for vaccinations or negative COVID tests begin to pop up, so do "fake" vaccination cards.
Much like underage teenagers who might score a fake ID to get into their local college bar for a drink, there are unvaccinated people who are looking to get fake vaccination cards. As you would expect, with the demand for fake vaccination cards, some folks are looking to capitalize on the opportunity to supply them.
A father and son recently made headlines after they were arrested for attempting to use a fake COVID-19 card to travel.
Many states are forming COVID-19 task forces to monitor for similar violations and warning the public of the consequences that can come with using or creative fake vaccination cards.
So far, New Orleans is the only city requiring vaccination cards or recent negative tests for entry into bars, restaurants, and other indoor venues in the city. The new requirement begins on Monday, and officials believe it will only increase the temptation for those against the vaccine to seek out fake cards.
Louisiana residents can use the LA Wallet app to verify their vaccination status. Outside of that, there are no other databases that currently track vaccinations—so it pretty much boils down to having the card. This means that anyone with decent Photoshop skills and the right card stock could craft a vaccination card without much fuss.
There have been numerous reports of people already charging between $25 to $200 for fake vaccination cards.
While it may be easy to make or purchase a fake card, the risks are nowhere close to the reward (especially since legit cards are technically free).
Legal analysts have appeared on multiple news outlets to let people know that fake vaccine cards can constitute a federal crime and land you in prison for up to five years.
You may be thinking, 'Look, I'm not gonna make the card, I'm just buying it off the internet. I'm gonna use it so my kid can go to school, I can go back to work, I can get into a restaurant or some other public place.' Because the law punishes the person who makes the card, who sells the card, but also anyone who takes that card, knowing it's false, knowing it's a fake, and uses it for almost any other purpose.
Page Pate also says that federal statutes in 18 U.S. Code § 1017 make it a crime "to use official U.S. government logos on any certificate, instrument, commission, document, or paper... with wrongful or fraudulent intent."
If somebody makes a card like that and uses one of those symbols - it can be the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC - if they put those symbols on a card without proper authorization, then they have committed a federal crime and it carries up to five years in prison.
And that would just be the beginning of your legal headache. Things like felony forgery could also land you into the type of federal hot waters that would have you dealing with the FBI.
Earlier today, someone got popped trying to ship thousands of cards to New Orleans in the wake of the news that vaccination cards would be required starting next week.
In addition to looking out for those manufacturing or using fake cards, authorities are asking people to report fake vaccination cards to their local police, the (1-800-HHS-TIPS or www.oig.hhs.gov); or the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov).