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Bill would make creating, possessing fake vaccination cards a felony

This undated photo provided by the California Department

This undated photo provided by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control shows confiscated fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards and a lamination machine.  Credit: AP

ALBANY — With fraudulent vaccine cards spreading, a Democratic state legislator is proposing a law that would make forging or possessing phony vaccine documents a felony.

Assemb. Jeff Dinowitz (D-Bronx) said his bill would amend forgery laws to specifically outlaw phony immunization records. He said such forgeries threaten public health.

"There can be no tolerance for fraudulent vaccination cards in New York, whether you are buying or selling them," Dinowitz said in a statement. "I am confident that this egregious behavior is already illegal according to countless state, local and federal statutes, but we should be explicitly clear in New York: If you get caught with a fake vaccination card, you will go to jail for a long time."

If approved, violations could lead to up to 15 years in prison.

The issue is gaining traction as colleges announce vaccine mandates and airlines struggle with enforcing mandates for international travel. The FBI issued a warning about purchasing and selling phony vaccine documents.

Forty-seven attorneys general across the U.S. recently fired off a letter demanding Twitter, eBay, Shopify and other websites to act immediately to prevent the selling of fraudulent vaccination cards.

"The false and deceptive marketing and sales of fake COVID vaccine cards threaten the health of our communities, slow progress in getting our residents protected from the virus and are a violation of the laws of many states," the National Association of Attorneys General wrote.

That reportedly spurred some peddlers of phony cards to shift to an encrypted social media application.

Meanwhile, New York plans a broad reopening of gathering spaces and businesses on May 19. Many of the venues will require proof of vaccination.

But there is a short time frame for Dinowitz’s proposal to gain approval — the State Legislature is slated to adjourn for the year on June 10.

State & Region