A bar owner in Clements has been arrested after allegedly selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards, authorities announced Wednesday.
The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control was first tipped off by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office about the creation of fake vaccination cards weeks ago, KTLA sister station KTXL in Sacramento reported.
In April, undercover agents went to the Old Corner Saloon bought the fake laminated vaccination cards on several occasions, purchasing them for $20 each, according to a news release from ABC.
That’s “a violation of the California Penal Code,” ABC noted in the release.
The owner of the bar, identified by the television station as Todd Anderson, was subsequently arrested, officials said.
“He was in possession of a number of other unfilled out COVID-19 vaccination cards, a laminating machine, laminate and several other cards that were finished. And it appears that they were waiting to be given to people,” Luke Blehm with ABC told KTXL.
Investigators say they saw others buy cards too, adding that Anderson also had an unregistered firearm on him at the time of his arrest.
The vaccination card crimes may be a first of its kind, according to Blehm.
“That we know of, this is the only case that’s ever been done — even nationwide possibly,” he said. “We did some research to try to find similars. They may be out there, but we just don’t know and haven’t seen them.”
ABC says they have written up a criminal complaint against another employee at the bar, but it is up to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office whether to charge that person.
The bar will remain open but KTXL was told their license could be revoked as the investigation continues.
In April, the FBI issued a warning that it is illegal to sell or buy fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards after such cards began popping up for sale online.
“It’s a federal crime here in the U.S. It’s also fraud and could be charged under forgery,” said Don Vilfer, the president of Digital Evidence Ventures and former FBI agent.