Twelve men and women who worked for a clinic, a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) pharmacy and a dried seafood shop have been arrested for using more than 11,000 local ID cards since May last year to obtain digital health vouchers through fraudulent methods, cheating the government out of more than MOP 9 million (US$1.13 million) in less than a year, Judiciary Police (PJ) spokeswoman Lei Hon Nei said at a special press conference on Tuesday.
The 12 suspects, aged between 25 and 66, comprise nine local residents and three mainlanders – a physician, the owner of a TCM pharmacy, a dried seafood shop owner and employees of the three businesses.
According to Lei, Health Bureau (SSM) staff reported to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) on January 3 that a large number of digital health vouchers were abnormally processed during the period from May to August 31 last year through the digital account of a doctor of a clinic located in Areia Preta district.
A total of 27 vouchers were processed in an hour so that each consultation would have lasted, on average, less than 3 minutes.
According to Lei, the doctor is suspected of the fraudulent use of over 11,000 Macau ID cards provided by the dried seafood store and the TCM pharmacy to illegally obtain digital health vouchers, thereby cheating the government out of about MOP 9 million.
PJ officers suspect that the clinic’s 30-year-old female local doctor surnamed Sit is involved in the case, together with the 33-year-old male TCM pharmacy owner surnamed Chan, the 54-year-old local male owner of the dried seafood shop, a local woman surnamed Lei who allegedly acted as an intermediary between the clinic and the two shops, and several employees of the three businesses.
The suspects allegedly paid the ID card holders between 30 to 40 per cent of the 600-pataca vouchers in cash for letting them use their ID details or offered them a certain quantity of goods from the dried seafood shop.
Lei said that the police arrested the 12 suspects on Monday and seized three computers, a printer, a digital medical card reader, 30 local ID cards, 167 digital health voucher receipts and more than 88,000 patacas in cash from the clinic.
Five local ID cards and a motorcycle were seized from the TCM pharmacy. According to Lei, the 12 suspects admitted their participation in the fraud. They also told the police that they “earnt” about MOP 2 million from the scheme.
Lei said that so far, 11 residents have been told to report to the police for their alleged participation in the fraud by allowing the suspects to use their ID cards to cheat the government out of public funds. The residents face prison terms of no less than three years, according to Lei.
The 12 suspects were transferred to Public Prosecution Office (MP) on Tuesday, facing charges of document forgery, computer fraud, and fraud involving a considerable amount, officially defined as exceeding 150,000 patacas, according to Lei.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News) PHOTO @ The Macau Post Daily/Camy Tam