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Fake COVID-19 cards sold online as more businesses require proof of vaccination

FOCUS spokes with the owner of a local business requiring proof of vaccination about how they are handling fake COVID-19 vaccine cards.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Across the country, officials are calling for a crackdown on fake COVID-19 vaccine cards being sold online. 

“So, our new policy is that we are for dining service, we are checking proof of vaccination," said Corey Milliman, the owner of CC's Low Carb Kitchen in Louisville. 

Step inside CC’s Low Carb Kitchen, and you’ll be asked for evidence: a COVID-19 vaccine card, or a recent negative test.

“And part of the driving factor was also of course, the surge with Delta," said Milliman. 

For Milliman, the decision was easy. 

RELATED: Who can get a third COVID shot in Kentucky?

“I had already had COVID I came I was diagnosed in February," he said. 

Six months later, he said he still suffers.

“Oh, my hands and feet go numb, randomly. I still, you know, extreme exhaustion," he said. 

They're symptoms he fears will last a lifetime. 

“I wouldn't wish this on anybody, then I don't want them to come to CC's and then leave and say, Well, you know, a year from now go 'Well, I can't feel my hands because I went out to eat a CC's,'" he said. 

But checking proof of vaccination might be a challenge.

“If you came across some of these cards, would you know it was a fake?” asked FOCUS investigative reporter Paula Vasan.

We showed Milliman examples of fake COVID-19 vaccine cards. Some have sold for as little as $10, as a way for those who are unvaccinated to game the system. 

RELATED: Kentucky health commissioner debunks myths about COVID vaccine, masks

“That is difficult. And hopefully, we won't see a lot of this, but we'll be on the lookout for it," said Milliman. 

But as more public places require proof, many say fraudulent cards may proliferate. In Memphis, a shipping hub, federal officers have seized more than 3,700 fake vaccination cards, according to a spokesperson with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as of August 17. Officials tell us they’re seizing about 15 packages filled with dozens of these cards each day. 

“We will do our best, we will check the vaccination cards. Is the handwriting the same across the card? Do we have something where maybe the date of vaccination is before a vaccine was actually available? different things like that," said Milliman. 

“Right, it'll definitely make their job harder to try and determine if something is fake or legitimate," said Lindsey Hix, the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office deputy director.

The best thing you can do if you spot a fake is report it, said Hix. 

“And we had someone who worked at a factory who reported that an employee of his was duplicating vaccine cards that he planned to give to family and friends," said Hix. 

Milliman said he knows policing vaccination cards won’t be easy. But he hopes his new policy still protects anyone who takes a seat. 

“And I see they're bringing their grandmothers or they're bringing, you know, their grandfathers or things like that, and we don't want to do anything. I don't want to see them at risk," he said. 

According to the FBI, making or buying counterfeit cards can result in a fine and up to five years in prison. If you spot one, experts advise you report it directly to the website where it’s being sold. You should also contact both the FBI and your attorney general’s office. 

RESOURCES

Here's what to do if you spot a fake COVID vaccine card, according to the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office:

  1. Report it to the website where the fake card is being sold 

  2. Contact the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office: 888-432-9257 (ag.ky.gov/scams)

  3. Contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov)

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