FBI warns against buying and selling fake COVID -19 vaccine cards
SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- With more companies requiring employees to be fully vaccinated the FBI is reporting an increase in investigations of fake vaccine cards.
“Me I don’t socialize with a lot of people right now only like the people that I know that got the vaccination and you know when I’m in the stores I try to stay 6 feet apart from people stuff like that," said Noralba Castillo, a South Bend Resident.
Presenting proof of vaccine status for entry to concerts, cruise lines, and even restaurants has become widely accepted nationwide, but one thing officials didn’t prepare for - knowing how to identify fake vaccine cards.
According to St. Joe County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Eric Tamashasky making fake vaccine cards would be considered counterfeiting under Indiana state law.
"The reality is that counterfeiting anything is a very serious offense it’s problematic and it does have felony repercussions and certainly there are temptations that are high on that, but it’s one of those things that I don’t think the juice is worth the squeeze at this point," said Eric Tamashasky, St. Joseph County Chief Deputy Prosecutor.
Tamashasky says the sentencing range for counterfeiting which is considered a Level 6 Felony is 6 months to 2 and a half years.
After a quick search online ABC57 found fradulent cards for sale on eBay and etsy ranging from 25 to 200 dollars.
“Using the internet to obtain something like this or to manufacture or distribute really opens up the exposure from any number of different law enforcement officials both state and federal. Especially depending upon the scope of just how big of an issue it’s become," said Tamashasky.
Despite the increase in fake card sales, some residents are still confident officials could easily identify fake from real ones.
“They should know when it’s a real one and it’s a fake one. It could be you know you could find out when it’s a fake one or it’s a real one. So that’s what I’m thinking," said Castillo.
The FBI released a warning against buying or creating the fake cards back in march and says if caught federally you could be fined and imprisoned up to five years.