While the coronavirus itself is a cause for grave concern in the country, some people are out there making business by putting others at further risk of infection by selling fake Covid-19 certificates.
Law enforcers claimed to have detected around a dozen syndicates, who are selling fake certificates during the pandemic. They provide a printed "Covid-19 negative/positive" certificate or an E-mail as per desire, for Tk 5,000 to Tk 9,000.
In cooperation with some hospital staffers, these syndicates mainly target those in need of a Covid-19 negative certificate to go abroad, said officials of police and Rab.
They have medical staffers, graphic designers and IT experts involved in their gangs. For the certificates, they mainly use DGHS or IEDCR pads.
Police and Rab claimed to have learned about the syndicates after arresting around a dozen people who were selling fake certificates.
"We have come to know that several syndicates are involved in selling fake Covid-19 certificates. We have already increased vigilance and are conducting drives to arrest them," Lt Col Sarwar-Bin-Quasem, director of Rab's legal and media wing, told The Daily Star yesterday.
In the latest drive on Wednesday, a team from Dhaka Metropolitan Police's Tejgaon Division arrested a couple from Airport area, who were selling fake Covid-19 certificates. The arrestees are Humayun Kabir and his wife Tanzina Patowari.
Harun-Ur-Rashid, deputy commissioner of Tejgaon Division Police, told this newspaper that they used to collect samples by visiting people's houses, even though they have no laboratory.
After collecting samples, they would go home and prepare fake certificates on their laptops. They would write "negative" or "positive" on the certificates depending on the patient's symptoms, he said.
If the patient had any Covid-19 symptoms, they would write positive and if not, they would write negative, added the DC.
Interrogating the couple, police later conducted a drive in the capital's Badda area and arrested three others, including JKG Healthcare CEO Ariful Chowdhury.
The two others are Sayed Chowdhury and Al Mamun, an IT expert, said police.
Md Mahmud Khan, assistant commissioner of DMP Tejgaon Zone, said that Humayun Kabir is a graphic designer and used to give patient reports on the official pads of the health directorate and the IEDCR.
"Tanzina, a nurse, worked for JKG Healthcare but the CEO Ariful said she was sacked her in April. But, we have found IEDCR pads on the laptops of JKG Healthcare," he said.
"We would able to say more about the syndicates' activities and involvement of any other gang after interrogating them [the arrestees] after taking them into remand," said Mahmud.
He added that in primary interrogation, they have come to know that these syndicates so far sold around 40 certificates to different people.
If the patient was a local resident, they charged Tk 5,000 but if the patient was a foreigner, they charged $100, Mahmud said.
Meanwhile on June 15, a Rab-3 team raided a photocopy shop in the capital's Mugda area and arrested four for selling fake Covid-19 certificates. The arrestees were Fajal, Sharif, Jamshed, and Liakat.
According to the law enforcers, they have sold around 150 to 200 certificates to different people and charged Tk 5,000-7,000 per certificate.
During interrogation, the arrestees said that mainly the garment workers would take negative certificates from them to join their work. But some people take positive certificates to submit those in office so that they could take leave.
ABM Faijul Islam, senior assistant director of Rab-3, told The Daily Star yesterday that the arrestees worked in photocopy shop and they used to scan and preserve certificates of Covid-19 patients. Some brokers in the hospital used to help them for the job, he said.
"We are investigating the incident to trace these brokers and such syndicates involved in selling fake Covid-19 certificates," he added.
Earlier on June 5, police arrested two people from the Savar upazila health and family planning office for selling fake Covid-19 certificates.