June 18, 2021
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Fake Covid-19 Vaccination Record Cards Are A Growing Problem, Says FBI

“Fake it till you make it” can be very questionable advice. “Fake a Covid-19 vaccination card because you can’t make a vaccination appointment” can be even worse.

As I have covered previously for Forbes, a Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card is currently the only real proof that you’ve received the Covid-19 vaccine. In order to get a real version of this cardboard paper card, you have to, you know, actually get the Covid-19 vaccine. So when schools, businesses, and other organizations want to determine who’s really been vaccinated, all they have to do is check for people’s vaccination record cards, because no one lies and cheats in our society, correct?

Well, as you’ve probably seen, for every rule, requirement, or standard, there’s no shortage of people who are willing to break it. Whether it’s resumes, college applications, Avengers membership cards, or pretty much anything else, you’ll find at least some people trying to fake it. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that people have been circulating instructions and means to create fake Covid-19 Vaccination Record Cards. Kevin Collier and Ben Collins reported for NBC News that such instructions and templates have appeared on “pro-Trump forums, like TheDonald.win, which was rebranded to Patriots.Win”, “the extremist forum 4chan”, and “QAnon forums.” Joseph Cox wrote an article for Vice entitled, “I Bought a Fake Covid-19 Vaccine Card on Etsy,” because that’s essentially what he was able to do pretty easily.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and the FBI have noticed that such cards have been “advertised on social media websites, as well as e-commerce platforms and blogs,” and issued a stern warning about them: “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.” In this case, FBI stands for Federal Bureau of Investigation and not Fun Bits Interactive or Fungi, Bacteria, and Insects. When the FBI gets involved, you know that the words “breaking the law” or “oh bleep” may not be too far away. Indeed, the FBI warning says, “the unauthorized use of an official government agency’s seal (such as HHS or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)) is a crime, and may be punishable under Title 18 United States Code, Section 1017, and other applicable laws.”

Here’s a tweet about this from the FBI Knoxville, which is Knoxville, Tennessee, and not Johnny Knoxville:

Seena Gressin, an Attorney at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also warned against posting pictures of your Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card. That’s because, surprise, surprise, people may download your picture and use it and the accompanying information. In this case, the risk is greater than your face appearing on a donkey’s body or on someone’s dating profile. They can use it to create a fake Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card or steal your identity as the following tweet warned:

Remember as is the case with many types of cheating, such fraud greatly affects those who actually play by the rules. For example, what about Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for fully vaccinated people like you can now “gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart?” If people aren’t being truthful about whether they are vaccinated, in the adapted words of that song that was sung by Whitney Houston, “how will I know, how will I know (some people can be freaking deceiving about their vaccination status)” whether it’s indeed safe to not wear face masks and come within six feet or one Denzel (because Denzel Washington is about six feet tall) of others. That can makes it difficult to follow guidance that distinguishes between those fully vaccinated and those who are not as the following tweets indicated:

Keep in mind that your protection against the Covid-19 coronavirus depends on not only you getting fully vaccinated but also those around you getting fully vaccinated. The FBI warning did say, “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.” The vaccine is not 100% effective. Even after getting vaccinated, you can still get infected with the virus, potentially get sick, and spread the virus to others, although your chances are probably significantly lower as a result of the vaccine. These chances go even lower when those around you are fully vaccinated.

Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card fraud does beg the question as to whether a national system of tracking vaccination or vaccine passport system is needed. Such questions should have been considered prior to the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out in 2020, which initially went about as well as repeatedly hitting your forehead with a sneaker. Those wary of such systems have argued that there may be privacy and data security concerns with such systems. So this is not necessarily a straightforward matter. Unfortunately, though, those distributing and using fake Covid-19 Vaccination Record Cards are driving the need for these considerations.

Here’s a thought. If you want the benefits of getting fully vaccinated, get fully vaccinated. If you are still hesitant about getting vaccinated, keep yourself and others safe by continuing to follow all face mask wearing and social distancing guidance in the meantime. Being an adult is about making choices and those dealing with the consequences of those choices. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Otherwise, it wouldn’t really be cake but instead could be something really weird that you shouldn’t be eating. And if you aren’t really ready to make the choice of getting vaccinated, don’t fake anything. Instead, get real medical advice from real doctors using real science. “Faking it till you make it” can be really terrible advice.