By Shereen Siewert
U.S. Dept. of Justice officials are urging people to report fake COVID-19 vaccination records, which are illegal under federal law and will be prosecuted.
The unauthorized use of an official government agency’s seal, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a crime, according to a news release from the DOJ.
Timothy M. O’Shea, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, Richard G. Frohling, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and Karen Timberlake, Secretary-designee and Anthony Baize, Inspector General of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services issued a release Friday cautioning that creating, distributing, selling, or buying fake vaccination cards is illegal. Any act of forging COVID-19 vaccination information is a violation of federal law, the release states.
“Legitimate COVID-19 vaccine cards—like the vaccines themselves—are crucial tools to prevent illness and death. People who are foolish or selfish (or both) enough to supply bogus vaccination cards, allowing others to circumvent COVID-19 curtailment efforts, will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said Timothy M. O’Shea, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin.
“Those who might claim to be vaccinated when they are not are putting themselves and their loved ones at risk of contracting COVID-19,” Timberlake said.
State and federal officials are also cautioning against posting vaccine cards on social media. That information could be stolen to commit fraud, officials say.
Baize said people who have been vaccinated and have cards that are incomplete or not filled out correctly should contact their vaccine provider.
“Public and private institutions, including employers, universities, schools, and businesses, need to be able to rely on the legitimacy of COVID-19 vaccine cards. Our office will use all available tools to prosecute individuals who knowingly falsify vaccine cards,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Richard Frohling.
Federal officials are asking anyone who knows or suspects any healthcare provider, pharmacy, private business, or Wisconsin resident of creating, distributing, selling, buying or forging COVID-19 vaccination cards either in person or online to contact the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Office of Inspector General (877-865-3432 or www.reportfraud.wisconsin.gov); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (1-800-HHS-TIPS or www.oig.hhs.gov); or the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov).