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Ellison, FBI warn against buying, selling fake COVID vaccination cards

These vaccination cards are currently the only real "proof" one has that they got the COVID-19 vaccine.
covid vaccine card

Officials are making a push to prevent people from selling and buying fake vaccination cards. 

People who receive the COVID-19 vaccine are given a "COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card" with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) emblem on it. On the card is information about the vaccine the patient has received and when they got it. 

Many of those who have gotten the vaccine have posted their cards on social media expressing their excitement (see below for why this can be risky) or have used them to get promotions being offered by various businesses

Related [March 30]: How to book a COVID vaccine appointment in Minnesota

Those little cards are also currently the only real "proof" one has that they've gotten the vaccine, Wall Street Journal explains. And the CDC is advising people to keep it in case they need it in the future and consider taking a picture of it to have it as a backup copy. 

And people are capitalizing on this. They're taking to social media to sell fake COVID-19 cards and encouraging people who don't want the vaccine to buy them, believing it will help them more easily navigate life in a pandemic world.

These fake vaccine cards are being advertised and sold on social media and elsewhere online.

This prompted a coalition of 45 state attorneys general, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, to send a letter to the CEOs of Twitter, eBay and Shopify, calling on them to "act immediately" to prevent people from selling fake vaccination cards on their platforms, citing the public health risks of people using fake cards. 

"Those deceptive cards threaten the health of our communities, slow progress in getting people protected from the virus and violate many state laws," a news release from Ellison's office says. 

Ellison said in a statement, "People are free not to be vaccinated if they wish, but they should not be free to fake their vaccination status. These companies must do their part to keep them from doing so.

" ... People who fake their vaccination status disrespect the vast majority of Minnesotans who have made sacrifices to care for each other during the pandemic — especially those families that have paid the ultimate sacrifice with the loss of a loved one," Ellison added. "We must all do everything we can to put an immediate halt to this practice. That includes Twitter, eBay, Shopify, and any online platform that is allowing it to continue."

The coalition of bipartisan attorneys general is asking the CEOs of the companies to monitor their platforms for ads or links selling blank or fraudulently-completed vaccination cards; take down ads or links that are selling the cards; and preserve records and information about the ads and the people who were selling them. 

Breaking the law

The FBI says those who buy and use fake vaccination cards could face consequences as it is breaking the law. 

"If you did not receive the vaccine, do not buy fake vaccine cards, do not make your own vaccine cards, and do not fill in blank vaccination record cards with false information," the FBI alert says. 

The agency says if you misrepresent yourself as being vaccinated when you go into schools, workplaces, gyms, places or worship or ride mass transit, "you put yourself and others around you at risk of contracting COVID-19."

And it's a crime. The FBI says the unauthorized use of an official government agency's seal, such as the CDC, is a crime and may be punishable under law. 

While few if any businesses and other venues in the U.S. require proof of vaccination for entry, if they did — and someone used a forged card to get it — that would be considered trespassing, William Kresse, an accountant and attorney who teaches fraud examination at Governors State University in suburban Chicago, told TODAY.

Because some people may be faking their vaccine status, the FBI urges businesses, places of worship and schools to continue to follow CDC guidance and maintain social distancing and mask-wearing.

Be careful what you post online

The FBI has also asked that people don't post photos of their entire vaccination card on social media

The cards have personal information that could subject you to identity theft

Not only that, but the vaccination card has information about the vaccine you got, including lot numbers, which can aid in the faking of the vaccination cards.

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