21 arrested in fake CPR certificate scam

Woman accused of selling fake CPR certificates

Published On: Dec 07 2011 05:33:37 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 08 2011 01:14:51 PM EST

State attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced Wednesday the arrests of 21 people accused of either manufacturing or purchasing counterfeit health care certificates. 

Maria Del Consuelo Fernandez is accused of being the ringleader. She and two others face four criminal counts of selling counterfeit CPR certificates to people working with the elderly and children with special needs. 

"The money for the CPR cards was $20 a pop, and these three women, to these three women, I guess one might say that’s all the life of a child is worth,” Fernandez Rundle said. 

In secretly recorded video, one can hear an undercover officer asking in Spanish how to obtain a CPR certificate. 

"’Are you going to be teaching a class?’(the officer asked.)They looked very quickly and said, ‘We don't teach any classes. All you need to do is get me the names, get me the money and the addresses and I will get you the cards,’" translated Rundle. 

An assisted-living facility called Yuli's Home Health Care in southwest Miami-Dade was shut down because the owner bought certificates for 10 of her employees from Fernandez, prosecutors said. 

The state attorney said that Fernandez was operating her counterfeit ring out of her first-floor apartment. Dozens of people in medical scrubs were showing up every day to buy phony certificates, even though there were warning signs and surveillance cameras everywhere, prosecutors said. 

Fernandez's upstairs neighbor, Raissa Fernandez, drives a private school bus and is required to get the certificates she is accused of forging. 

"If that is the case, it shouldn't be accepted. We deal with the public and safety concerns all the time, and you need to know CPR," said Raissa Fernandez. 

Now random checks will now be done on all certificates issued because investigators don't know how many fake certificates were sold, and that is a major concern for Fernandez Rundle. 

"We don't know how many heart attacks may have occurred in different facilities because CPR wasn't administered or they didn't know how to do CPR,” Fernandez Rundle said.