A California bar owner who sold undercover agents fake COVID-19 vaccine cards is facing a slew of charges for peddling the phony cards at $20 a pop.
The Record reported Wednesday agents from the state's Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control bought the bogus cards several times during April at the Old Corner Saloon in Clements, about 35 miles southeast of Sacramento.
Owner Todd Anderson, 59, of Acampo, Calif., faces charges of felony identity theft and forging government documents, as well as a misdemeanor for falsifying medical records, the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Elisa Bubak told USA Today.
The cards sold for $20, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said in a statement — and it could could mark the first such case in the nation, USA Today reported.
The low-tech cards are increasingly being required to travel or get into public events. Those who get a COVID-19 shot are given a CDC vaccination card that indicates the vaccine they got, as well as the date and where it was administered.
Officials have worried the cards could be ripe for fraud, and a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general in April urged tech companies to keep their platforms from being used to sell fake cards.
In late March, the FBI said it’s a crime to buy or make a fake version of the cards. Because the card uses a government seal, it's can also be a crime to use a fake vaccine card to misrepresent yourself.
The phony vaccine cards are just one of the scams that have emerged during the coronavirus pandemic. Amid this spring's vaccine rollout, federal agencies warned against vaccination scams aiming to cheat people out of money, USA Today reported. Allegations that people misused Paycheck Protection Program funds have also resulted in a number of federal charges as well, the news outlet reported.
Recent scams include "investments" in phony COVID-19 cures and charging people in advance for nonexistent home tests, fake protective gear, or even overpriced toilet paper that never arrives, USA Today reported.
Other schemes offer "help" finding a new job or quickly getting federal stimulus checks, if people provide bank account and Social Security numbers or pay upfront fees, the news outle noted.
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