You may have seen arrest reports on the news. While the pandemic continues, criminals have upped their game. Now we have to be wary of fake vaccinations.
Regional officials with the Tennessee Department of Health and Sullivan County Health Department remind the public about fraud. Recent reports of fake vaccination cards have made their way into the news. People choosing to fake vaccination instead of receiving the vaccine are causing issues.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3.gov) issued a warning about fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.
The FBI and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are seeing reports where individuals are selling fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards. They are encouraging others to print fake cards at home. These fakes are on social media websites, ecommerce platforms, and blogs.
Vaccination cards provide recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine information. It provides the name and type of vaccine received and when to receive a second dose - if needed. Officials with the Tennessee Department of Health advise people not to buy fake vaccine cards or make their own. If you didn't get the vaccine, do not fill out the blank cards with false information.
Falsely claiming vaccination and going into schools, public transportation, and other public locations puts you and others at risk of contracting COVID-19. This also leads to extended requirements in federal and private locations to use personal protective equipment, such as masks and other measures. Following CDC guidance and continuing to social distance is our only defense as a community against those taking shortcuts.
"Getting carded" is taking on a whole new meaning. While Sullivan County and Northest Tennessee Regional Health Office officials strongly recommend getting the vaccine, they do not recommend showing your proof via social media. If you did receive the vaccine, do not post photos of your vaccine card on your social media page. Your information could be stolen and used to commit fraud, or identity theft.
It also makes it easier for those tempted to make their own cards. Be advised - unauthorized use of a government agency's seal or logo (such as HHS, FBI, CDC, etc..) if a crime punishable under federal law.
If you believe you are a victim of an online scam: Report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.
Update your page
If you or anyone you know has already posted a photo of their vaccination card - officials suggest you remove it from your page. You can update your profile photo with a banner, sticker, or other graphic proclaiming your vaccination status.
Many social media platforms have developed graphics or frames for these posts. You can also download stickers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at their website.
Laying down the law
Local FBI officials have reported crackdowns on those creating and selling counterfeit cards online. The FBI verifies -it is considered a crime. Unauthorized use of an official government agency seal may be punishable under Title 18, Section 1017 of the United States Code. Penalties for offenders may involve fines, imprisonment, or both.
Many who aren't willing to take the nominal risk of getting a vaccine, are apparently willing to risk federal sentencing. Local health officials from all branches (pharmacy, public health, clinics, and hospitals) recognize the risks involved. These healthcare providers guard the blank cards as if they were the vaccines themselves.