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Feds Warn Against Fake COVID-19 Vaccine Cards

by Aparna Zalani | CBS 11

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Local and federal law enforcement agencies are fighting a new kind of fraud.

In New York, officials arrested a 21-year-old, accused of stealing boxes of blank vaccination cards from his employer.

Authorities say he had several pre-filled cards and several blank cards at the time of the arrest.

In California, undercover agents purchased vaccine cards from a bar owner, he too had several blank cards including the laminate machines and things to manufacture more cards.

The CBS 11 I-Team was able to make a purchase for blank vaccine cards advertised online. The listing has been taken down.

The Office of Inspector General at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services says no one should pay for a vaccine card.

Chris Schrank, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations at the office of inspector general at HHS, says scammers are duping customers into buying pre-filled fraUdulent vaccine cards and selling blank vaccine cards to customers who may fill them out with fraUdulent information.

He says both are illegal and dangerous.

You could be setting yourself up for identity theft by making purchases from questionable sellers. And he says, it could also be endangering public health.

"they can put all of us in harm's way to be of individuals walking around with a vaccine card or never vaccinated," he said.

He warns against posting a picture of the vaccine card online.

The vaccine card has plenty of personal information such as name, date of birth, place you got the vaccine, and lot number of the vaccine.

"What that allows others to do is to fill in fake information on that card if they want to sell it to somebody else," he said. "They see it's a valid lot number they see it's a valid company. All of that information can be used by others, for not for not the intended purposes."

In Texas-- this information is stored in the Texas immunization registry. It is a database accessed by authorized providers such as health care professionals and schools.

But it's not just a fake vaccine cards that the OIG is investigating. The I-Team showed the Assistant Inspector General a so-called vaccine exemption card purchased online which lays out the law of informed consent.

It looks legal but both the OIG and Texas Department of Health and Human Services said it is not legally binding.

The problem of fake vaccine cards listings have caught the attention of the Attorneys generals in at least 46 states.

They've sent a letter to websites like Amazon, Etsy and other to actively remove listings of fake vaccine cards.

Until then, Schrank says people should:

-- never pay for a vaccine card.
-- don't offer information about your vaccine to anyone
--do not post a picture of your vaccine card online
-- and if you suspect any fraud-- contact the Inspector General at 1800-HHH-TIPS (447-8477)

Penalties for making or forging fake vaccine cards can carry both local and federal charges - including charges for misuse of federal seals.

Some of these cards may contain CDC and HHS logos.

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