Man Could Face 7 Years in Prison After Allegedly Submitting Fake Vaccine Card to Job

A man in New York could face seven years in prison for allegedly faking his COVID-19 vaccination status, according to state police.

Twenty-four-year-old Devin R. Kemp of Eaton was arrested Friday for possession of a forged instrument in the second degree. Kemp had allegedly submitted a fake vaccination card to his employer, an offense that is considered a class "D" felony.

According to authorities, the New York State Police was contacted on September 27 by the state's Department of Health Vaccination Complaint Investigation Team, who were investigating a case of a forged COVID-19 vaccination card that had been reported to them by a private company.

"The investigation determined Mr. Kemp presented a fraudulent COVID-19 Vaccine Card to his employer," said the state police in a press release.

"Mr. Kemp was transported to the Oneida County Public Safety Building for centralized arraignment."

According to the New York State Unified Court System, the maximum sentence for a class D felony in New York is seven years.

Trooper Jack Keller, a public information officer for Troop D of the New York State Police who handled this matter, told Newsweek this was the first case of vaccine card forgery that has come to their attention. Cases such as this first go through the Department of Health, he explained. Once they complete their investigation, the department pass along to the appropriate police to process the accused.

The Vaccination Complaint Investigation Team was set up in January 2021 within the Department of Health's Division of Legal Affairs, along with a COVID-19 Fraud hotline, to address allegations of fraud relating to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, according to Jill Montag, director of communications for the New York State Department of Health. She told Newsweek in an email that the department has received approximately 50 complaints concerning alleged fraud in connection with proof of vaccinations.

"The team has been operating with investigators from the Department's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and the Department of Financial Services, who have taken on these investigations in addition to their regular duties," Montag said. She said as the investigations are ongoing, she is unable to comment further on the matter though emphasized that the department will not tolerate fraud of any kind with New York's COVID vaccine program.

In early September, President Joe Biden announced that employers with more than 100 employees would have to mandate vaccination or weekly testing. In addition, he required vaccinations for federal workers and contractors who do business with the federal government, as well as healthcare workers who work at Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals.

Following Biden's sweeping vaccine mandate, the number of fake COVID-19 vaccine card vendors had risen into the thousands. In August, there were 800-900 vendors selling fake vaccine cards for around $100 each, according to research from Check Point Software Technologies. After the president's announcement, a spokesperson for the company told Newsweek that though the pricing had remained the same, there were now up to 10,000 vendors.

Cases have been reported surrounding fake and real COVID vaccination cards. A bench warrant was issued for an Illinois woman who is accused of using a fabricated vaccination card that said 'Maderna' instead of 'Moderna.' And a Detroit nurse allegedly stole vaccination cards from a hospital and sold them via Facebook.

Newsweek contacted the director of public information for the New York State Police, but did not receive a comment in time for publication.

man arrested for fake COVID card
Seized counterfeit CDC Covid-19 vaccination record cards, N95 masks, and unapproved pharmaceuticals are displayed during an opening ceremony for a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) air dedicated centralized examination station with Custom Specialized Services at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on September 16, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

Updated 10/06/2021,1:27 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to include a statement from the New York State Department of Health.