Cards being sold online that claim to exempt carriers from wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic are fraudulent, according to the Better Business Bureau of Southwest Missouri.
The cards, being sold in packs of 500 for $50, feature a red, white and blue eagle logo and are about the size of a standard business card. They say the bearer is exempt from any ordinance requiring face mask usage in public.
“Wearing a face mask posses a mental and/or physical risk to me,” reads the card, which misspells ‘poses’ and incorrectly names the Americans with Disabilities Act. “Under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), I am not required to disclose my condition to you.”
Each card — containing a fake Department of Justice seal and a logo of a group called the Freedom To Breathe Agency, whose website has been taken down — also falsely warns that any business or organization that doesn’t adhere to the cardholder’s mask exemption will be fined up to $75,000 for a first violation and $150,000 for each subsequent violation.
“People are buying these cards online, not realizing they’re falling for a scam,” said Stephanie Garland, BBB Springfield regional director. “They also don’t realize they’re perpetrating the scam by going to these businesses and presenting the card.”
“We are hearing from multiple people who are falling for this scam in the Joplin area,” she said. “What these people are doing is they have these cards in their wallets, and they’re presenting them to others people as if they’re valid.”
Multiple state and local governments have mandated the use of masks and face coverings as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country — a move that has faced opposition from individuals who view it as a violation of their civil liberties.
“There are a lot of people who don’t want to wear masks,” Garland said. “So they’re buying these cards and showing them to business owners who require masks to be worn in their stores. But this whole thing is a scam, and these cards have been made by scammers.
“It’s important to recognize the fake card when you see it. Know that it’s nothing that a doctor has prescribed, and it’s a scam that’s happening right here in Joplin, Carthage, Neosho and other neighboring communities.”