Kerala lab 'cheats' travellers by issuing 'fake' COVID-19 certificates without testing Manager arrested

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Malappuram (Ker), Sep 29 (PTI) A private lab in Kerala
has allegedly cheated a large number of people, mostly those
travelling to the Middle East and other countries, by issuing
'fake' COVID-19 negative certificates without testing their
samples, and it's manager arrested on Tuesday, police said.
The fraud came to light as several expatriates were found
positive for COVID-19 on arrival in Saudi Arabia despite them
holding the negative test certificates issued by the Arma Lab
in Valancherry in this district, a franchise of a Kozhikode-
based ICMR-approved reputed laboratory.
The Arma Lab allegedly cheated around 2,000 people in the
past few months by using 'fake' letter heads of its parent lab
for issuing the negative certificates, police said.
As per the agreement, the franchise has been designated
as an agency to collect samples and send them for testing to
the Kozhikode-based laboratory, authorised to issue the
COVID-19 certificates.
Police said the officials of Arma lab authorities, who had
allegedly collected 2,500 samples in the past few months, did
not send all of them to the Kozhikode laboratory for testing.
"Instead they had sent only about 500 samples for testing
and issued fake COVID-19 negative certificates in about 2,000
cases. The Arma Lab authorities made 'fake' letter heads of
the Kozhikode laboratory and issued the COVID-19
certificates," police said.
It allegedly charged up to Rs.2,750 for each test and had
collected between Rs 40 lakhs to Rs 45 lakhs, they said.
After several expatriates holding the negative
certificates tested positive on arrival, the Saudi authorities
have barred people with certificates from the Kozhikode lab,
police said.
Negative COVID-19 test certificate issued by a verified
laboratory 48 hours before arrival is mandatory for travel to
Saudi Arabia and several other countries.
Acting on a complaint by a person allegedly cheated by
the lab, the police launched an investigation and arrested
the manager of Arma Lab on Tuesday.
He was produced before a court which remanded him to
judicial custody, sub-inspector of Valanchery police station
Muralikrishnan said.
The owner of Arma Lab, now under quarantine after testing
positive for COVID-19, is reported to have approached the
Kerala High Court for anticipatory bail in the case.
Police said stringent action will be taken against the
Valanchery-based lab for committing the fraud and cheating the
public to the tune of lakhs of rupees. PTI CORR TGB ROH

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)