While mask-wearing amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has become politicized, federal officials are cautioning of a new scam for fraudulent face mask exempt flyers that have been circulating online.
The Department of Justice has issued a warning of a card that has been circulating online which falsely claims its holder is exempt from wearing a mask - contrary to local, state, and federal mandates.
The cards are purportedly from the “Freedom to Breathe Agency” - which is not an official federal or state agency - and states that wearing a mask will incur mental or physical risk for the holder.
Officials said the card also claims that the Americans with Disabilities Act forbids raising questions about the health condition that could be aggravated by mask usage. Penalties are also threatened if a business owner does not act accordingly for the card-holder.
The card also claims that businesses or groups that attempt to enforce requirements to wear a mask could be reported to the Freedom to Breathe Agency, the outfit selling the cards.
One version includes the logo of the Justice Department and lists a phone number to report ADA violations.
"If found in violation of the ADA you could face steep penalties. Organizations and businesses can be fined up to $75,000 for your first violation and $150,000 for any subsequent violations,” the card states. “Denying access to your business/organization will be also reported to FTBA for further actions.”
The cards have been being sold online in recent weeks as many grow tired of wearing face coverings in public. The cards were being sold online in boxes of at least 500 for $49.99, according to reports.
“The Department of Justice has been made aware of postings or flyers on the internet regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the use of face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of which include the Department of Justice’s seal,” officials said. “These postings were not issued by the Department and are not endorsed by the Department.”
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