Cards on the market that declare to exempt individuals from carrying masks throughout the coronavirus pandemic are fraudulent, federal officers stated.
The playing cards — that includes a purple, white and blue eagle emblem and roughly the dimension of a enterprise card — say the bearer is exempt from ordinances requiring them to put on masks in public.
“Wearing a face mask posses 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,” reads the card, which misspells “poses” and incorrectly names the Americans with Disabilities Act.
There’s additionally a warning that companies or organizations might be reported to the Freedom to Breathe Agency, the group behind the playing cards. One model of the playing cards featured the Justice Department’s emblem and listed a reputable telephone quantity the place complaints about violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act might be submitted.
The playing cards have been being bought on-line in packing containers of not less than 500 for $49.99.
But such playing cards and fliers were not issued or endorsed by the Justice Department, federal officials said.
“Do not be fooled by the chicanery and misappropriation of the DOJ eagle,” said Matthew G.T. Martin, the United States attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina. “These cards do not carry the force of law. The ‘Freedom to Breathe Agency,’ or ‘FTBA,’ is not a government agency.”
Mr. Martin’s statement mentioned nothing about charges arising from the cards, and the group distributing them said no legal action had been taken against it.
The cards were created in response to complaints, the group’s communication team said in an email, and as “an educational tool” to help people “understand their legal and human rights so they can stand up to the unlawful, unscientific and unconstitutional mandates.”
The communications team declined to provide a named spokesperson, citing concerns over “the safety of our key members.” The group said it had received hundreds of reports and continued to get them daily from people who did not want to wear masks and because of that had been “denied access, discriminated, degraded, intimated and coerced.”
“These are people who have medical conditions where wearing a face mask puts them at significant health risk,” the group added.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public places to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Footage of an episode on Friday at a Trader Joe’s store in California was the latest case of consumers resisting face mask policies at stores.
The founder of the Freedom to Breathe Agency, Lenka Koloma, advertised the cards on her Facebook page, and they were sold on a site created through the commerce platform Shopify. The site was unavailable on Sunday afternoon.
“Shopify takes concerns around the goods and services made available by merchants on our platform very seriously,” a company spokeswoman, Sheryl So, said. “We have multiple teams who handle potential violations of Shopify’s Acceptable Use Policy, including malicious and deceptive practices.”
The original Facebook group and a website on the Wix platform for the Freedom to Breathe Agency were also taken down. Facebook and Wix could not immediately be reached on Sunday.
The group behind the cards said it had requested support and information from Wix and that it had experienced “unlawful and unconstitutional censorship by Facebook.”