The Justice Department issued a warning Tuesday that documents bearing its seal and cards claiming that people are exempt from wearing face masks are fake.
Reports of fraudulent face mask exemption cards have surfaced online as the wearing of face coverings in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic has taken on an increasingly partisan tone. The cards reportedly list a phone number related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), aside from the DOJ seal and image of a red, white and blue eagle.
In a previous alert, the department said it doesn’t issue such cards or endorsements. Anti-mask supporters have been downloading the flyers online to print and laminate them to present as government-issued, according to reports.
Some cards read: “I am exempt from any ordinance requiring face mask usage in public. Wearing a face mask poses 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.”
The cards claim that businesses or organizations can be fined up to $75,000 for not recognizing the claim and $150,000 for subsequent violations.
The cards also list the “Freedom to Breathe Agency,” the group behind the cards. The New York Times reported the group sold the cards online.
“Do not be fooled by the chicanery and misappropriation of the DOJ eagle,” U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin of the Middle District of North Carolina said in a news release last week. “These cards do not carry the force of law. The ‘Freedom to Breathe Agency,’ or ‘FTBA,’ is not a government agency.”