Masks are everywhere now. Most places have some kind of laws or requests mandating masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Tons of people have gotten on board and masked up, but plenty of people still don’t want to wear one.
While most mask deniers will just go about their business normally, some have decided to “exempt” themselves from needing a face covering at all. “Face Mask Exempt Cards” have circulated on social media, and the government has made it clear that all of these cards are fake.
— US Attorney MDNC (@USAO_MDNC) June 26, 2020
Mask Exemption Scam
This isn’t your typical scam, but it’s just as dangerous. Mask exemption cards state that the carrier, because of a mental or physical condition, is not required to wear a mask in public. Some people have flashed these cards to justify going maskless during the pandemic.
Usually, scammers attempt to steal money, goods, or information from people, but that’s not really happening here. Cards are being sold online in packs of 500 for $50, but there have yet to be reports of the purchases themselves being fraudulent. People who buy the cards get exactly what they ordered, and there have been no reports of fraudulent credit card activity after the fact.
The coronavirus pandemic has opened plenty of avenues for scammers to hurt people, such as contact tracing scams or stealing stimulus checks. While the mask exemption scam isn’t as clearly nefarious, it still does a lot of harm.
First off, these fraudulent cards claim to be issued and backed by the FTBA – Freedom to Breath Agency. This organization doesn’t exist and these cards do not come with any legal authority. The exemption cards also claim that businesses that require masks may be violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, and could face $75,000 to $150,000 in fines. This, too, is false.
This particular scam is less about money and more about discontent and confusion. While it’s not clear exactly who started this and why, mask exemptions can give carriers a false sense of security and superiority, while the details of the card can pose serious threats to business owners.
The Bottom Line
Depending on where you live, you may be required to wear a mask when in public. As of now, there is no federally backed exemption from mask wearing, and the Freedom to Breathe Agency is fake.
If you spot anyone flashing an exemption card in a store or restaurant, kindly inform them or the staff that these cards are fraudulent. You could save everyone a headache, and hopefully, save lives by encouraging masks.