Suppose you catch two employees operating a $1.5M fake COVID-19 vaccine card operation. Do you have to call the police?


I’ll bet they didn’t cover this when you were studying for your SHRM-CP, did they?


Over the weekend, the Associated Press reported that two nurses were arrested and charged with felony forgery for allegedly faking and selling COVID-19 vaccination cards and pocketing more than $1.5 million from the scheme.

The district attorney said that the women handed out fake vaccination cards, charging $220 for adults and $85 for children, after which they entered the false information into the state’s immunization database.

A search of one of the nurse’s homes yielded about $900,000 in cash and a ledger showing profits of more than $1.5 million from the scheme, which began in November 2021.

Call the police?

Let’s flashback to Thanksgiving. Suppose you employ these two and learn about the (alleged) fake vaccine card ring before the police. Indeed, you have reliable information that the two employees are conducting business in your break room.

Forgery is a crime — both under state and federal law. Must you notify the authorities? An employer’s duty to report a crime doesn’t arise all that much. Employers may have a duty under federal law to report employees who peddle child porn. OSHA encourages employers to report incidents of workplace violence to the police, but it’s not required. This article on LEXIS, which I found reprinted here for free, notes that employers in certain regulated industries may have a duty to report particular illegal activity to federal regulators (think: securities violations).

Your mileage may vary under state law. I found an article on Westlaw (sorry, it’s behind a paywall) that lists laws of nine states codifying a duty to report criminal behavior to police in limited situations — none of which involves forgery or fraud specifically. Colorado’s reporting law is broad enough to create a “duty of every corporation or person who has reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has been committed to report promptly the suspected crime to law enforcement authorities.” Ohio makes it a misdemeanor for anyone “knowing that a felony has been or is being committed” to fail to report it to the police.

In the other 48 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S territories, I recommend that you call your lawyer and ask for their advice. Heck, do it in CO and OH too.

As for the two nurses whom the police already busted, CNBC reports that the “pair’s legal defense was not immediately clear.”

“It’s our hope that an accusation definitely doesn’t overshadow the good work [my client has] done for children and adults in the medical field,” said one of their lawyers.


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