A Queensland life coach allegedly gave out “hundreds” of fake certificates that claimed to have exempted people from having to get a COVID test, get vaccinated, or even wear a mask, Queensland Police say.
Maria Pau, who also goes by Maria Power, is a 45-year-old life coach from the Gold Coast. She runs an online charity named Coaching with Substance, where she helps people who are struggling with mental health, domestic violence, and addiction issues.
According to Detective Acting Inspector Damien Powell, Pau has been allegedly writing falsified medical certificates for so-called vaccine exemptions, as well as allegedly falsely exempting people from getting a COVID test or wearing a mask.
Police say the life coach is not a registered medical practitioner nor does she hold a medical doctorate. She was arrested on Wednesday night after a local member got in touch with Gold Coast Police.
“[Pau] is of the belief she is entitled to issue those certificates,” Acting Inspector Powell said via the ABC.
“She is basically anti-COVID and does not believe people should be forced into vaccinations.”
She has been charged with five counts of taking a title that implies she has a medical license. Police allege that she sold each fake medical certificate for $150 each. With up to 600 of them allegedly sold across the country, that means she allegedly earned up to $90,000.
Police are now in the process of tracking down who bought the fake certificates and say it’s “not a matter to be treated lightly”.
“What we have been able to establish so far is they are from across Australia, or mainland states,” Powell said.
“We’ll be working with our sister agencies across Australia to identify those people and ensure that they’re aware their certificates are not valid.
“If those documents are being presented to employers as being exemptions from vaccination, then that exposes that person to risk of catching COVID because they’re not properly vaccinated, or suffering ill-effects of COVID, it also places colleagues and workmates at risk.
“There’s a lot of talk that COVID is a hoax. It’s not. One look at the world media and deaths or speak to a person who’s had family die from it, it is not a hoax.”
The anti-vax life coach could face fines of up to $10,000 and jail time. She is due to appear at the Southport Magistrates Court on October 28.