• Strong points
  • Expats say private hospitals fail to protect their information, allowing fraudsters to take advantage of the situation
  • Over 100 expats have been victims of fraud at various private hospitals in Chattogram in the past six months
  • 10 people were killed at the imperial hospital

Aboul Qasim, a Bangladeshi expatriate in the United Arab Emirates, tested samples for Covid-19 at the Imperial Hospital in Chattogram on December 2. In the afternoon of the same day, he was informed from an unknown phone number (01857627246) that his report was positive. However, the person told him that the report can be changed to negative if he pays Tk5,000.

Qasim became anxious to test positive for Covid-19 as he had a flight back to the United Arab Emirates the next day. So, he contacted the person and agreed to get a negative result by paying 3,500 Tk.

However, upon arriving in the United Arab Emirates a day later, he was diagnosed negative for the virus. After that, his family called the number several times but it was turned off.

Not only Abul Qasim, at least 10 people faced the same fraud who were tested for Covid-19 at the Imperial Hospital. Over the past six months, more than a hundred expatriates have been victims of such activities in various private hospitals in Chattogram.

Expats say private hospitals fail to protect their information and fraudsters are taking advantage of the situation.

Nipul Das, a resident of Rangunia upazila, gave samples to the Chevron Covid-19 testing center in Chattogram on his way to Dubai a month ago. Someone called him in the afternoon of the same day and said his report was positive. He also proposed to Nipul to modify the result in exchange for 4,800 Tk via BKash. However, when Nipul refused to pay the money, the phone got disconnected.

He immediately contacted authorities at Chevron about it and the hospital sent the official report via text message indicating that he was HIV negative for Covid-19.

Rashedul Hasan, director of the Chevron Diagnostic Center, filed a general diary at Halishahar Police Station about the incident. Police say the numbers used for this scam are used in Pabna, Sylhet and Noakhali.

The head of Karnafuli EPZ, Md Moinuddin, also received a call on November 3 after his father, an expatriate in Dubai, provided a sample for testing Covid-19 at the Imperial Hospital. “We paid Tk 3500 via BKash for a negative report Covide-19. Later, my stepfather was tested negative at the airport in Dubai.”

He said: “I was contacted from two numbers (01857627246/01770910964). We then called back the GP number and the person who received the phone claimed to be Dr Shahriar.”

Private hospitals and diagnostic centers in the city have expressed concern over this kind of fraudulent activity.

Riaz Hossain, CEO of Imperial Hospital, told The Business Standard: “We have nothing to do with this fraud. We do not provide any information on customers’ phones. A large portion of expats come to us through travel agencies, where customer information is leaked. “

“Over the past week, the number of these scams has increased alarmingly. We have informed Khulshi Police Station of this problem,” he added.

Mr Elias Chowdhury, the civil surgeon for Chattogram, said: “We have heard about it. However, we were unable to act because we did not get the proper information.

Chattogram Metropolitan Police (CMP) Commissioner Saleh Mohammad Tanvir told The Business Standard: “We are taking the matter seriously. We want at least one victim to meet with me and tell me about their experience.”

Three non-governmental organizations Chattogram Maternal and Child Hospital, Imperial Hospital and Chevron Clinical Laboratory in Chattogram have been approved to perform Covid-19 tests for passengers who wish to travel abroad.

On average, 500 to 600 expatriates submit samples for the Covid-19 test every day at these laboratories. In accordance with the rules, passengers are informed of the test results within 24 hours of submitting the sample for an amount of Tk 2,500. The reports are also published on the website of the Ministry of Health.