The federal government should crack down on the sale of phony coronavirus vaccination cards and launch an information campaign to stress that anyone buying one can lead to prison time, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said over the weekend, the New York Post reported.
"I am urging a federal crackdown on these counterfeit COVID cards and [the start of] an education campaign to make it clear to the American people that this is illegal, you could actually go to prison for buying these," the New York Democrat said at a press conference in Manhattan.
"The Feds have to step up their efforts to ameliorate this problem before it gets worse," said Schumer. "The Department of Justice must ensure that fraud cases are prosecuted to the full extent of the law" against those manufacturing and selling fake COVID cards.
The senator said he can’t understand why unvaccinated people would rather spend money for counterfeit cards than get vaccinated for free or even get paid for it, in some places questioning "who could be that dumb" to risk prosecution.
Schumer’s call for a crackdown on the illegal immunization cards comes as Customs and Border Patrol officers in Tennessee have seized thousands of them from China in the past year, according to the agency.
It also came after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that the city will next month start requiring movie theaters, restaurants, and gyms to require proof of vaccination to enter.
Schumer stressed that in New York "we are going to great lengths to let people go back to their activities at restaurants, at sports stadiums, at gatherings, at clubs, with the idea that if you show [an authentic vaccination] card it’s OK."
But he warned that "if fake cards become an epidemic, then people will no longer feel safe to gather at these places and we will hurt our economy, as well."
In March, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services sent out a statement informing the public not to purchase, create, or sell fake vaccine cards. It is a federal crime punishable by a fine and up to five years in prison for the unauthorized use of the seal of an official government agency, according to NY1.
"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 statement warned.
It emphasized that "by misrepresenting yourself as vaccinated when entering schools, mass transit, workplaces, gyms, or places of worship, you put yourself and others around you at risk of contracting COVID-19."
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