Mumbai: Charkop Police have arrested a 29-year-old lab technician of a reputed laboratory that conducts tests for COVID-19 for allegedly forging and giving out fake COVID reports. The scam came to light when a woman got suspicious about her reports and approached police, who learnt in the probe that the accused had forged the reports without even sending the swabs for further testing. Police said that the man has cheated 37 people using the same modus operandi. He has been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code for cheating, forgery.
According to police, the incident came to light when a 31-year-old woman went to get an RT-PCR test as it was made a mandatory requirement at her workplace. The woman's swab was collected by the accused, Mohammad Salim Shaikh, who turned in her reports a few days later, which stated she was COVID negative. The woman then submitted this negative report at her workplace, but her employer suspected foul play, said police.
"To check the authenticity and reconfirm the report, the employer scanned the QR code on the report, which stated it belonged to someone else. The woman immediately approached Charkop Police and lodged a complaint," said senior inspector Manohar Shinde. Acting on this information, police picked up Shaikh for questioning, who confessed that he never sent the woman's swab for further testing and edited the report using a software to furbish a fake negative report.
Subsequently, Shaikh, a Malvani resident, was arrested on Thursday, after he confessed of giving out such fake reports to 37 people. Shaikh said during the probe that the people who were asymptomatic and had come to get the RT-PCR tests done, he would discard their samples and forge a fake negative report, while those who seemed to be symptomatic, their swabs were sent for further testing.
Police officer said that Shaikh had noticed a surge in swab samples for testing in the last couple of months, which is when he thought of minting money off of the situation. After Shaikh's arrest, his licence was suspended by the lab. "Using this modus operandi, Shaikh duped 37 people and earned over ₹37,000. He has been booked under relevant sections for the Indian Penal Code for forgery (section 465), cheating (section 420), criminal breach of trust (section 406), disobedience of orders promulgated by public servant (section 188), and negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life (section 269)," said the official.