Consumer groups warning of fraudulent ‘face mask exempt cards’

The Department of Justice, ADA.gov and the Federal Trade Commission are warning people about a “face mask exempt card” that has been circulating around social media, which the departments say are fraudulent.

Lenka Koloma is behind the Freedom To Breathe Agency -- the organization that created the cards.

“We had so many desperate citizens reaching to us that they don’t know what to do,” said Koloma.

Koloma said she created the Freedom to Breathe Agency in June, but when asked how many members were part of the agency she would not answer.

When also asked if News4Jax could speak to anybody else involved with the Agency she said they were voting on board members soon.

At this point News4Jax could only confirm that Koloma was the only person behind the organization.

She told News4Jax Consumer Investigator she doesn’t see anything wrong with the cards, even with federal agencies calling them invalid.

“There are only a few reasons that people are excluded from wearing masks out in public, but having one of these cards is not one of them,” Koloma said.

“This was our very first attempt that we put out and there was misspelling errors. There was this misunderstanding with the seal, and you know what happens when you put it out there it just goes.”

The seal Koloma was referring to is the seal of the Department of Justice. Koloma said that version of the card was supposed to be a draft.

But the FTC, ADA.gov and the DOJ have each issued statements saying the cards are not endorsed by any of the agencies.

Notice from FTC
Notice from FTC

The DOJ’s statement reads in part:

“Inaccurate flyers or other postings have been circulating on the web and via social media channels regarding the use of face masks and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these notices included use of the Department of Justice seal and ADA phone number.”

“The Department of Justice did not issue these cards that was the misunderstanding. The cards are issued by FTBA,” Koloma said.

She told News4Jax the card is meant to be educational for the person who sees it.

News4Jax consumer investigator Lauren Verno asked Koloma:

“They’re using this card and saying, ‘I have an exemption card. I don’t have to do that.’ Are you saying that’s an okay way to use it?”

“Well, I think that every person has to understand their legal rights,” Koloma responded.

ADA.gov said that if people want to know their rights, they should contact the Department of Justice immediately.

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