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DHS, law enforcement investigating several complaints of fake vaccine cards across Wisconsin

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 10:47 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - After issuing an advisory noting that fake vaccines are a federal crime, the Department of Health Services say it is now investigating “a number” of complaints about the making, selling and buying of fake COVID-19 vaccine cards across Wisconsin.

DHS released the advisory on Sept. 10 after two complaints were filed about businesses selling fake vaccine cards. One business was targeting students attending school where proof of vaccination is required, the other was targeting anyone else. Since then, DHS Inspector General Anthony Baize says the department has received several more complaints detailing similar activity happening statewide.

“We are working with our law enforcement partners at the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices to try to figure out what resources to use to investigate these two complaints,” Baize said.

He noted that the consequences depend on the extent to which the fake vaccine cards are falsified.

“If they are actually using CDC cards with the CDC logo and imprint, that is government property and you can be charged with theft of government property for that,” Baize said. “If it’s just a purely printed on cardstock fake then it could be a forgery charge or providing false information charge.”

Baize says it can be hard to discern a fake vaccine card, especially for businesses that require proof of vaccination but are only checking to see if the name on a given vaccine card matches that of a driver’s license or ID.

“The best way for us to do that [verify a vaccine card] is to check the card against the Wisconsin Immunization Registry,” he explains.

But most businesses are just relying on good faith that customers are showing proof of legitimate vaccine cards, Baize said.

Plus, “you don’t want to accuse somebody of having a fake vaccine card because it certainly may not be a fake vaccine card,” says Tiffany Schultz with the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau.

Both Schultz and Baize say businesses should pay attention to the vaccine lot number on the cards. If the lot numbers don’t match what’s in the Wisconsin Immunization Record, chances are it’s a fake vaccine card said Baize.

But the fraudulent activity doesn’t stop with vaccine cards.

“The scary thing is we are hearing there are providers who are willing to falsify the immunization record,” said Baize. “It’s creating a false vaccine record for a whole bunch of people and messing up a legitimate person’s vaccine record.”

It’s why Baize says honesty is what will help bring the pandemic to an end.

“The ability for us to get the pandemic under control relies on people... who are vaccinated and told the truth about the vaccination status,” he said.

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