A bar owner in California allegedly was caught hawking fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards to customers, authorities said.
In April, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control launched an investigation after the agency received complaints the fake cards were available for purchase at the Old Corner Saloon in Clements.
Department spokesman John Carr said undercover agents purchased four falsified cards at $20 apiece at the establishment, the Los Angeles Times reported.
On May 4, the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department helped take Todd Anderson, 59, into custody.
At the time of his arrest, officials said, Anderson was in possession of an unregistered firearm as well as “materials related to the distribution of fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards.”
The suspect faces multiple charges, including forgery of a government seal, identity theft, falsifying medical records and having an unregistered firearm in a public place.
Anderson was released on $380,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on May 18.
San Joaquin County Dist. Atty. Tori Verber Salazar said it was “disheartening to have members in our community show flagrant disregard for public health in the midst of a pandemic” and that “distributing, falsifying or purchasing fake COVID-19 vaccine cards is against the law and endangers yourself and those around you.”
Elisa Bubak, a spokeswoman for the San Joaquin County district attorney’s office, noted, “Where there’s an opportunity and a need, people fill it.”
In a public service announcement, the FBI warned the public not to buy, make or fill-in blank vaccination cards with false information.
“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 FBI said, adding that the unauthorized use of an official government agency's seal is a crime.