A bar owner in the San Joaquin Valley has been arrested by agents from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) for allegedly selling fake COVID vaccination cards.
According to Tori Verber Salazar, San Joaquin County District Attorney, ABC started an investigation into the bar in Clements, California, that was supposedly being used to sell fake vaccination cards. A group of four undercover agents took a trip to the Old Corner Saloon multiple times throughout the entirety of April and they were successful in their attempts to purchase the fake COVID vaccination cards, which were laminated.
While undercover, the agents visited the establishment and paid the fee of $20 each and were made “to write their names and birthdays on Post-it notes and then watched as employees cut the cards, filled in the identifying information and bogus vaccination dates, and laminated the finished products,” reported The Associated Press.
“On the back where they put the two dates when you were vaccinated, they used two different color pens to make it look like it was two different times,” Luke Blehm, the supervising agent, stated to the Modesto Bee. “So they went to some effort to make it look authentic.”
While in the facility, the agents claimed to have seen “at least eight others” buying the fraudulent vaccine cards. ABC, however, has yet to find out how many counterfeit cards have been issued.
“It is disheartening to have members in our community show flagrant disregard for public health in the midst of a pandemic. Distributing, falsifying or purchasing fake COVID-19 vaccine cards is against the law and endangers yourself and those around you,” Salazar released in a statement. “The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office is grateful for the partnership with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office for their work in this case.”
The authorities arrested Todd Anderson, the 59-year-old bar owner, this past week. As they executed the search warrant, they found at least 30 blank VOCID vaccination cards along with a lamination machine. Both the cards and the machine were confiscated. Upon further searching police found leaded unregistered firearms which are in violation of California handgun laws.
Due to how new this type of thing is, authorities do not have a precedent to follow in terms of what to do next.
“This is such a new case. We looked for some other guidance from other cases around the country and we haven’t been able to find one like this at all,” Blehm stated to the Bee.
These counterfeit COVID vaccination cards are seemingly rising in popularity as states, local municipalities, and businesses make it mandatory to use vaccine passports. The FBI has issued a warning statement about the counterfeit card earlier this year.