Much of the American public might be surprised to find out that for months there's already been a de facto 'vaccine passport' policy in effect to enter one US state. And already there's been a handful of people busted at the "state border" (legal questions of Constitutionality aside) attempting to enter the islands with a fake vaccine proof card.
"People are pressing their luck entering Hawaii with fake vaccination cards or test results, an offense that can carry jail time," The Hill reports. It's the vacation paradise destination that the Chicago woman with the "Maderna" card got caught this summer trying to enter. Also initially a father and son from California marked the first case that gained national attention.
In the latest incident, a couple in their 30's flew from Los Angeles with what's being described as faking a negative Covid test. The Guardian reports that "According to a police statement last week, they uploaded false results into the state’s system, which flagged the documents and prompted an investigation."
The travelers were subsequently arrested and sent back to California and are now awaiting a court date. The attempts to get around Covid testing and vaccine mandates are apparently geared toward avoiding a lengthy hotel quarantine stay at personal cost upon entering Hawaii.
As The Hill details, some people were caught falsifying vaccine cards even for their children - despite the underage children being ineligible to receive the vaccine in the first place - but now face stiff legal penalties, including the possibility of jail time:
According to Hawaii News Now, fake cards hold a penalty of up to $5,000 or a prison term of up to a year, however, Newsweek reports that a 24-year old man from New York could face seven years in prison for allegedly submitting a fake card.
The trend has been observed nationally. So far the most sophisticated fake vax record bust has come out of New York and Jersey, given in that prior instance one of the schemers had access to state computer records.
As we detailed in early September, a woman in New Jersey who was known to clients as "AntiVaxMomma" - which she goes by on Instagram - had been charged by police with offering false documents, criminal possession of a forged instrument and conspiracy. Police said she was known to have sold some 250 fake COVID-19 vaccine cards over the previous months for about $200 each in the New York City area.
The scheme was among the more elaborate ones uncovered of late, given that customers could offer $250 more for someone she was working with to enter the card buyer's name into a New York state vaccination database, according to ABC News. This would then grant the 'fake' card verification status if checked against state health systems.
Meanwhile, within Hawaii the state has already rolled out a COVID vaccine passport for residents to access gyms, bars, and restaurants - akin to large US cities like New York and San Francisco. "The state calls it a digital smart health card and says it would work the same way as the Safe Travels vaccine exception, where people would have to upload a copy of the vaccination card to a secure website," local media detailed. However, at this early phase it's not yet fully mandated, but businesses are being encouraged to enforce it on their premises.