SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) — Fake mask exemption I.D. cards are being sold online, and South Carolina Emergency Management (SCEM) officials are warning the public about the latest scam.
The mask mandate is meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus during the pandemic. But officials say during times of crisis, someone is always looking to make a quick buck, so it’s important to always remain alert and to ask questions.
Face mask exempt cards are making a second round on social media and although they look real, SCEM officials say they are fake.
“There are no avenues for someone to get some sort of exemption for not wearing a mask, it’s just not something that’s available to anyone.” SCEM Public Information Coordinator, Brandon LaVorgna said.
The card circulating online looks real with the U.S. Department of Justice written on it, and even includes a medical decal, after DOJ officials issued a warning telling people to beware.
COVID-19 touched LeQuaun Sullivans’s family; his mother-in-law recently got over it. He’s concerned that fake cards will encourage people not to wear masks but knows the rest of his family is protected because of them.
“Everybody should wear a mask; I don’t care about the cards or anything like that because it keeps everybody else safe, you might not want to be safe, but it keeps the people around you safe,” Sullivan said.
Officials admit the cards could fool you if you’re uninformed. Some of them have the disclaimer that reads in part…“Wearing a face mask possesses a mental and/or physical risk to me. Under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), I am not required to disclose my condition to you.”
Face masks are mandatory in federal buildings and in businesses across South Carolina, to date, there are no medical exemptions issued on behalf of the ADA, the state or federal government.
Officials are doing their part to keep the public informed.
“Scams are cyclical; I’m sure we’ll see another one show up soon, targeting pandemic people in some shape or form. The last one we just sent out the other week was regarding people trying to sell their spots in line to get a vaccine.” LaVorgna said.
While the price is minimal for the fake badges, officials say in the long run, you could lose so much more.
“It’s not like you’re missing out on $10 or $20 bucks, your personal information is getting taken down a lot in these cases, and that’s something we obviously know we need to protect. LaVorgna said.
South Carolina Emergency Management officials say if you see a mask exemption badge for sale, contact authorities.