FBI warns of harsh penalty that comes with faking COVID vaccination cards

More people are getting vaccinated, but there is also a new problem. Some people are faking the proof of vaccine documentation.

As governments, businesses, and sports teams offer incentives to get vaccinated, counterfeit COVID-19 vaccine cards are popping up.

The FBI warns that it is a federal crime.

“That is misuse of a government seal, so that is actually a crime to do that. It comes with it for each offense, up to a $5,000 fine or five years in prison,” said Amy Alexander, a spokesperson with the FBI Seattle field office. The seal in question is the CDC logo on the cards.

The FBI says fake cards have already been showing up for sale online, “advertised on social media websites, as well as e-commerce platforms and blogs.”

Alexander says the problem is likely to get worse with more incentives.

On Friday, a pop-up vaccination site run by Seattle Fire Department’s mobile clinic teamed up with businesses in the U-District to offer discounts. For example, people who got a shot received a coupon for free ice cream at Sweet Alchemy.

“We are trying to be creative in how to get the vaccine into people’s arms,” said Captain Melissa Woolsey with the Seattle Fire Department. Woolsey is a vaccination site supervisor.

Other examples of incentives are that people who get a COVID vaccine at Seattle Sounders home games get a free hot dog.

The Seattle Mariners officially announced its vaccinated-only section on Friday, where fans don’t have to social distance.

It starts on May 13. During home games May 13-19, fans who show proof of full vaccination get a free Mariners t-shirt, access to $10 tickets, “exclusive access to the T-Mobile ‘Pen’”, plus discounts on food, drinks and merchandise.

“It’s definitely a good little push for the people who are undecided,” said Will Matney, who got his shot in the U-District on Friday.

The FBI says more incentives result in more forgeries.

“We expect there to be more pressure in that regard – for there to be more interest in these fake cards,” Alexander said.

This week, a bar owner in northern California near Sacramento got busted for selling made-to-order fake vaccination cards.

They were going for $20 each and got sold to an undercover state agent. The owner has been arrested and charged with forging government documents.

The FBI is warning you, don’t do it. The penalty is steep—up to five years in prison.

The FBI is also asking you to report any cases you see of falsified vaccination cards. You can report cards being sold online at www.ic3.gov.