Police in the northern Vietnamese province of Bac Ninh have broken up a ring that provided fake COVID-19 test results, with nine suspects arrested.
The provincial Department of Public Security confirmed on Tuesday morning that the nine suspects are being probed for forging seals and documents of agencies and organizations, as well as using fake seals and documents of agencies and organizations.
The leader of the illicit racket is Phan Dinh Hai, 25, residing in Ngoc Xa Commune, Que Vo District.
Being a long-haul truck driver, Hai is required to test negative for the novel coronavirus to pass local COVID-19 checkpoints in accordance with regulations.
He came up with a way to fake these negative test results and forged the seal of Bac Ninh-based Hoan My International Hospital.
Hai first used the bogus test results for his own travel and later sold them to his peers.
One of his buyers, 34-year-old Nguyen Ba Tu, also resold the documents to other long-haul truckers at higher prices for profit.
Tu admitted to buying the rapid test results from Hai at VND180,000 (US$8) each and real-time RT-PCR test results at VND500,000 ($22) each.
The rapid and RT-PCR test results were then resold at VND200,000 ($9) and VND600,000-650,000 ($26-28), respectively.
Multiple truck drivers bought the fake documents from Hai and Tu to pass COVID-19 checkpoints.
After the tests expired, they submitted them to their employers for a refund of the testing fee.
Officers said they had confiscated a computer set, a round seal of Hoan My International Hospital, and other related exhibits.
Forging and using fake COVID-19 test results are serious violations, police stressed, adding that the actions may cause the virus to further spread to the community and undermine pandemic prevention and control efforts in the province and country in general.
Bac Ninh has so far recorded 1,724 local infections since the fourth COVID-19 hit Vietnam on April 27.
The Ministry of Health has set the prices for rapid COVID-19 testing at VND238,000 ($10.3) and real-time RT-PCR testing at VND734,000 ($32).