Scam alert: FBI warns about fake COVID-19 vaccination cards sold online

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KANSAS CITY, Mo – The FBI is warning against fake COVID-19 vaccination cards being sold online.

The fraudulent cards are being sold on popular websites and some are even selling for hundreds of dollars.

The CDC is calling the scam a “public health concern.”

“Throughout this entire pandemic, the FBI has been trying to warn members of the public about different types of scams and frauds they have been seeing. We’ve been seeing charity fraud, we have been seeing pay out-of-pocket for vaccinations and this is another fraud that is starting to emerge,” said Bridget Patton, spokesperson for the FBI’s Kansas City office.

Patton said not only is it risky when people are paying to get these cards without actually getting vaccinated, but it’s a federal crime.

“If you reproduce a government agency’s seal, the unauthorized use of that seal is illegal and punishable,” Patton said. “The unauthorized use of a government agencies seal is punishable under title 18 of the United States code, section 1017 and can lead to a fine and/or up to five years, not to exceed five years in prison.”

Despite the shady business, a local ethics expert tells FOX4 this type of scam speaks to a wider problem.

“You have to try to think, what is it that would motivate someone to do something like that?” said Tarris Rossell, the Rosemary Flanagan chair for the Center for Practical Bioethics. “I think it has to do with distrust. The symbolism that has gone along with vaccines and mask wearing and social distancing due to the politicization of a pandemic.”

On April 1, the National Association of Attorneys General sent a letter to the CEOs of Twitter, Ebay and Shopify asking them to prevent the selling of the fake vaccination cards on their websites.

“Misrepresenting yourself as being vaccinated and entering a gym, a house of worship, a school, place of education is not only putting you at risk, but it’s putting others at risk,” Patton said. “If you have not been vaccinated, do not purchase a fake COVID-19 vaccination card, do not produce your own fake COVID-19 vaccination card and do not fill in the blanks with falsified information on the vaccination card.”

Experts also say when you get a real vaccine card, don’t take a picture of it and post it on social media, that way you can protect your personal information from being stolen.

If you notice suspicious activities pertaining to fake or fraudulent vaccination cards, contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov or contact the United States Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-HHS-TIPS.

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