Mumbai: The Sahar police arrested five men employed with a private laboratory who forged more than 100 Covid reports for fliers at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA), charging Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 each, in addition to the test charges. The accused men, all aged between 20 and 22 years, are graduates and have been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code for cheating and forgery.
Police said that they had received a complaint from a private laboratory owner, who had learnt about the fraud and approached the Sahar police on February 10. Acting on this information, police began their probe and learnt that the accused were employed with the pathology lab, which had a tender to conduct RT-PCR and Rapid RT-PCR tests.
A detailed probe revealed that the accused, identified as Rupesh Chaudhari, Sunny Singh, Pawan Mallaha, Shubham Mane, and Rahul Gurav, were picked up for enquiries on the basis of a tip-off. During the investigation, it was revealed that the accused had been perpetrating the fraud on the CSMIA since February last year.
An officer said that the accused approached the fliers after the test, which they presumed to be positive, and offered to give them a negative RT-PCR report, which would help them skip quarantine. The accused issued forged negative Covid test reports, risking the lives of others by giving out fake reports to those testing positive for Covid. An officer close to the investigation said that they suspect the accused could have collected a few lakhs of rupees from the fliers.
Police are now trying to identify those who availed such forged reports solely to skip institutional quarantine. Meanwhile, the five arrested accused were produced before a local magistrate court on Wednesday and remanded in police custody for five days to conduct a detailed investigation.