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Consequences for using fake COVID-19 vaccination card hazy as King County's verification rule begins

People say they've heard of peers purchasing fake cards and wonder if it can be reported.

SEATTLE — A new COVID-19 vaccine verification took effect in King County on Monday. King County agencies believe using a fake vaccination card is a federal crime, however information on legal action is vague.

Under the order, people are required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before entering many public places. 

"I'm pretty sure it's going to pop-up somewhere and we're going to have to deal with it at some point just like the fake IDs," said Rhein Haus manager Jeremy Walcott. 

For businesses like Rhein Haus, the order is enforced through the Department of Labor & Industry and the Liquor and Cannabis Board. L&I said the Liquor and Cannabis board can suspend a bar or restaurant's liquor license for not following the order. 

However, answers to questions about repercussions for people using fake vaccination cards have been harder to find. 

KING 5 reached out to the King County Sheriff's Office, Department of Labor & Industry, Public Health Seattle-King County and the Washington State Attorney General's Office about details on legal action for people using the forged document. The consensus is using a fake vaccination card is a federal crime. 

"One, we want to emphasize that fake vaccine cards can be reported to the FBI," said FBI Seattle public affairs specialist Amy Alexander. "The second thing that we want to emphasize is the fact that we don't want people using fake cards. Don't create the fake cards, don't distribute the fake cards, don't print cards online, don't sell them because that is a crime."

Alexander said people can report fake vaccination cards to the FBI's tip line at 1-800-225-5324 or https://tips.fbi.gov/. She says the U.S. Attorney's Office could choose to file charges, however details are vague. 

"There are a variety of statutes that could potentially apply. Obviously, this is an emerging issue so we don't have an statutes at our disposal that are directly related to COVID-19 vaccination fraud," Alexander said.

Alexander stressed people should not put a photo of their vaccine cards online because people can steal the information and use it to make fraudulent cards. 

Public Health Seattle-King County said it expects the "vast majority" of people to follow the requirement, which was put in place to help ease stress on hospitals and slow the spread of COVID-19. 

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