Indonesia Arrests Three for Using Fake ‘Coronavirus-Free’ Certifications to Travel

An Indonesian health officials takes temperature readings of arriving passengers amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus at the Jakarta international Airport on February 23, 2020. - The World Health Organization warned Friday that the window to stem the deadly coronavirus outbreak was shrinking, amid concern over a surge in cases …
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Indonesian police arrested three people on Thursday for using fake “coronavirus-free” documents to island-hop from Java to Bali.

The suspects allegedly used the fake letters so that they could travel amid restrictions on movement during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, Coconuts Jakarta reported on Friday.

Indonesian authorities have required citizens traveling during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic to present official medical documents declaring them free of coronavirus, prompting some websites in the country to illegally forge and sell fake “coronavirus-free” letters. According to the report, only people who need to travel for “logistics purposes, health, and COVID-19 [coronavirus]-related matters” or “extremely important” personal reasons are allowed to travel in Indonesia currently, as the government has imposed strict limits on peoples’ movement in an effort to curb the country’s coronavirus outbreak.

On Thursday, police on the island of Bali arrested three people found using the fake coronavirus medical documents to cross from the island of Java to Gilimanuk Port on the island of Bali, according to the report.

“We have arrested three people. … They are still being investigated further in Gilimanuk,” Ketut Gede Adi Wibawa, the chief of police in Jembrana, where the travelers were detained, said on Thursday.

One fake medical document seen by Coconuts Jakarta appeared to copy the letterhead of Mitra Keluarga, a distinguished private hospital on the island of Java. According to the report, some of the letters have been sold online for “millions” of rupiah, the local currency, or about $70.

Mitra Keluarga, whose letterhead was duplicated in the recent forgeries, denied any connection with the seller of the fake medical letters in a statement released on Thursday, Indonesian newspaper Rupiblika reported on Friday.

In connection with the circulation of the news on social media as well as news outlets regarding the medical letter using Mitra Keluarga’s letterhead, we hereby inform you that our management has never partnered with those who sell COVID-19-free [coronavirus-free] statement letters.

The hospital warned against the further use of its brand, adding that it would seek “legal action” against any future forgeries. “Mitra Keluarga will take legal action should there be anyone who uses the name or attributes  of Mitra Keluarga, which includes the usage of our letterhead without our permission.”

Some major electronic commerce websites in Indonesia, including Tokopedia and Shopee, said this week that they have taken down fake medical letters sold on their platforms in addition to suspending the sellers’ accounts, Coconuts Jakarta reports.

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