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Fake COVID-19 vaccine cards illegal, lead to identity theft

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Mercyhurst University and Allegheny College are among the more than 675 schools nationwide that require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend in-person classes.

These schools are not alone. Retail stores, employers and concert venues across the country are starting to demand that people show proof of vaccination to gain entry.

This has led to an increased demand for fake COVID-19 vaccination cards. A cottage industry has sprung up to accommodate people who say they won’t get vaccinated for either personal or religious reasons, the Associated Press reported.

An Instagram account with the username “vaccinationcards” sells laminated COVID-19 vaccination cards for $25 each, the AP reported. A user on the encrypted messaging app, Telegram, offers “COVID-19 Vaccine Cards Certificates,” for as much as $200 apiece.

These fake vaccination cards are illegal, as are blank vaccination crads you fill out yourself with false information.

The unauthorized use of the seal of an official government agency such as Health and Human Services or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a federal crime that carries a possible fine and a maximum of five years in prison.

In addition, scammers are targeting these people who desire fake or blank vaccination cards. They set up shop online, take your money — and possibly steal your identity — and you never receive the illegal cards you want.

Because who is going to call the police when they get scammed trying to buy an illegal vaccination card?

More: David Bruce: Highmark, UPMC Health Plan still covering 100% of COVID-19 inpatient care

The Federal Trade Commission offered this advice about fake vaccination cards:

  • The only legitimate way to get proof that you’re vaccinated — or that you test negative — is to get vaccinated or to test negative. The vaccine remains free and it is the best way to redcuce your risk of getting COVID-19.
  • If you lose your card, check with your state health department or the place you got vaccinated to find out how you might be able to get a replacement.
  • If you spot a fake vaccine card, report it to the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or oig.hhs.gov, or file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
  • You can also file a report with the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Your report can make a difference. The FTC uses reports like these to investigate, bring law enforcement cases, and alert people about what frauds to be on the lookout for so they can protect themselves, their friends, and family.
  • To learn more about COVID-related scams, visit ftc.gov.coronavirus/scams and subscribe to consumer alerts from the FTC to get updates delivered right to your email inbox.

HERE to HELP: Have a consumer question you’d like us to help you with? Leave a message with David Bruce at 870-1736, send an email to [email protected] or send mail to 205 W. 12th St., Erie, PA 16534.

Source: on 2021-09-03 05:00:00

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