A California bar owner was arrested this week for selling fake Covid-19 vaccination cards at his business, prosecutors said.
Owner Todd Anderson, 59, of Acampo, Calif., Was arrested Tuesday and charged with identity theft, forging government documents, forging medical records and possession of an unregistered handgun Charged, Tori Verber Salazar, the district attorney for San Joaquin in a statement this week.
âIt is disheartening to see members of our community showing a blatant disregard for public health in the midst of a pandemic,â Ms. Salazar said in the statement. “Distributing, falsifying or buying false COVID-19 vaccine cards is against the law and endangers you and those around you.” Mr. Anderson declined to comment on Friday. His arraignment is scheduled for May 18.
California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents began their investigation of Mr. Anderson after receiving a complaint that fake cards were being sold at his business, the Old Corner Saloon in Clements, Calif., About 40 miles south -is of Sacramento. .
In April, undercover officers were able to purchase fraudulent cards four times, the Alcohol Control Department said.
The cards were sold for $ 20 each, according to the district attorney’s office.
“A number of cards were found for distribution during a search warrant executed at the bar,” the department said. The search, he said, also found other supplies, including 30 blank cards and a laminating machine, which were confiscated.
The Alcohol Control Department and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office were involved in Mr. Anderson’s arrest.
Each of the charges Mr. Anderson faces is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of three years in prison, with the exception of falsifying medical records, which is an offense punishable by a maximum sentence of six. months in prison.
Fake vaccination records have become a growing problem during the pandemic, authorities say. Vaccination cards provide proof that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19 in the United States and indicate the type of vaccine.
The Office of the Inspector General of the Federal Department of Health and Human Services and the FBI recently released a public service announcement warn the public that selling fake vaccination cards with a government logo is a crime.
The notice warned the public about those who sell fake Covid-19 vaccination cards and encourage others to print fake cards at home. The cards have been advertised on social media sites as well as e-commerce platforms and blogs.
“If you haven’t received the vaccine, don’t buy fake vaccine cards, make your own vaccine cards, or fill out blank immunization cards with false information,” the ad says.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said they were “aware of cases of fraud involving counterfeit Covid-19 vaccine cards.” He asked people not to share images of their personal information or immunization cards on social media.
In addition to the criminal charges against Mr Anderson, the Department of Alcohol Control has said it will take disciplinary action against the bar. This action may include a suspension or revocation of his license to control alcoholic beverages.
According to the bar’s website, Mr. Anderson is originally from Minnesota who has lived in San Joaquin County since 1986 and has owned the business since 2005.