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Thinking of Using a Fake COVID-19 Vaccine Card? You Could Face Federal Charges if Caught 

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Will County Criminal Defense LawyerThe COVID-19 pandemic not only changed the way Americans live their lives, but it also created many opportunities for committing fraud. Many of these schemes involved the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, and Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged hundreds of defendants with crimes that were based on these schemes.

The FBI recently announced a new fraudulent scheme they are cracking down on - counterfeit COVID-19 vaccine cards. The agency has also declared that anyone who is charged and convicted of this crime faces harsh penalties. And as we approach the weekend of Chicago’s annual four-day Lollapalooza music festival, Illinois lawmakers are also warning people that it is not only illegal to make counterfeit COVID-19 vaccine cards, but also to use them.

COVID-19 Vaccine Cards

When a person receives their first shot of the COVID vaccine, they receive a card with their personal information and the date and brand of vaccine they received. If they require a second dose, that information is also entered on the card. This card is the only proof that the individual is fully vaccinated.

There has been a great divide between people who are for the vaccine and those against it. This debate has intensified even more as organizations and businesses have begun to require people to show proof that they are vaccinated in order to gain entry. Some events, like the Lollapalooza, are requiring attendees to either show proof they are fully vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within so many days of attending the event.

These requirements have led some people who choose not to get the vaccine to purchase counterfeit cards. And law enforcement reports that these fake cards are becoming more accessible, with offers popping up all over online platforms, including eBay, Twitter, and Instagram. People are also offering fake COVID-19 test results online.

Penalties for Fraud

The FBI has stated that “the creation, purchase, or sale of vaccine cards by individuals is illegal and endangers public safety.” Being charged with making or using counterfeit vaccine cards can result in a federal offense charge. Every legitimate card has a government seal – the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) logo. Misuse of any government seal is a crime, and each offense can result in a prison sentence of up to five years and up to a $5,000 fine. This means that someone who gets caught using a fake card to get into an event, such as this weekend’s music festival, could end up sitting in jail for a few years.

Contact a Will County Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested and charged with using or producing counterfeit COVID-19 documents, it is critical to understand how serious these charges are and the significant penalties you could face if convicted. Call McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC at 815-727-0100 to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled Joliet, IL fraud attorneys and find out how we can help defend you against these charges.

 

Sources:

https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/fbi-warns-harsh-penalty-that-comes-with-faking-covid-vaccination-cards/SGBUBY5OK5GKZMIWU5QDBPEV2A/

https://support.lollapalooza.com/hc/en-us/articles/4402115992852-Lollapalooza-Health-Policy-Covid-19-

https://www.ic3.gov/Media/Y2021/PSA210330

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-takes-action-against-covid-19-fraud

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