DENVER (KDVR) — Federal and state authorities have been working to track those who are selling fake COVID-19 vaccine cards. As more vaccine mandates roll out, the question remains – what happens if you make one for yourself?
For those who think using Photoshop and printing a fake card is no big deal – think again. Legal experts warn those actions could lead to time behind bars.
Proof of vaccination is becoming more of a necessity to enjoy life. Whether proof is required for dinner at a restaurant or to attend a concert, there are more reasons why someone who isn’t vaccinated might be tempted to produce a fake card.
“Under both federal law and state law, it is a crime to create, to sell, to buy, to use, or even to simply possess one of these false vaccination cards as long as you have the intent to deceive,” said associate law professor Ian Farrell at the University of Denver.
Farrell said it’s a federal offense to create a counterfeit card because of the seal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that has been placed on the cards. The federal offense is punishable by up to five years behind bars and/or a fine.
The fake cards could also be considered forgery under Colorado law. The crime in Colorado could either be a class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor, Farrell said. Punishment can range from three months to 18 months behind bars and fines range from $250 to $5,000 depending on the specific charge.
It’s unknown if many prosecutors will file charges against individual citizens or how enforcement could be achieved.
“The politics of, I think, this are tricky,” Farrell said.
Farrell believes the focus will be on those creating a black market business.
“It won’t be prosecutions so much of individual people who are showing their ID card, but, rather, going after people who are trying to make money out of this,” he said.
On April 1, 2021, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser signed a letter with other attorneys general urging online platforms to crack down on sale of illegal cards.