Members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) have arrested 14 members of a gang for defrauding overseas fortune seekers of money in the name of providing them with Covid-19 negative certificates for their trips abroad.
The arrestees are Kazi Belal Hossain, 31, Jasim Uddin, 22, Sultan Mia, 19, Abul Hossain, 24, Abdul Nur, 21, Alfaz Mia, 19, Mohammad Shamim, 32, Ahmed Hossain, 19, Imran Uddin Milon, 19, Sabuj Mia, 27, Abdur Rashid, 28, Abdul Karim Chowdhury, 32, Angur Mia, 25, and Alamgir Hossain, 20.
Some 120 illegally registered SIM cards, 32 handsets and some other materials were seized from them.
RAB Director (Legal and Media) Commander Khandaker Al Moin briefed reporters in the capital on Thursday in this regard.
He said the gang members, under the guise of job seekers, used to stay at government-fixed Covid-19 test facilities in Dhaka, Chattogram, Narayanganj, Cumilla, Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Habiganj from 7:00am to 12:00pm every day.
They tactfully collected phone numbers and other information of those who gave samples for Covid-19 test for going abroad with job, the RAB officer said.
Later, they, impersonating hospital officials, phoned the fortune seekers before they received any message from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) about their test and falsely informed them that they tested positive, he said.
During primary interrogation, Belal said he chose the path of deception after being cheated by an unknown man in March, 2021 when he was trying to go to Oman, according to the RAB officer.
Belal gave sample for Covid-19 test at a hospital in Cumilla. After a few days, an unknown man introducing him as an officer of the hospital phoned him and told him that he tested positive.
He demanded a big amount of money assuring him of giving a negative certificate, Moin said, quoting Belal. “As Belal was badly in need of the negative report, he paid him Tk 10,000, but found nothing.”
Later, he came to know that he was cheated. In April that year, he got his real Covid-19 test certificate that was negative with which he went to Oman.
Before leaving the country, Belal planned to cheat people the same way he was deceived. He shared the matter with his friend Sabuj and made a team to commit the crime.
Sabuj and others began deceiving the fortune seekers applying the tactics and they paid a share to Belal.
Belal returned to Bangladesh in August last and got directly involved in fraudulence. He again went to Oman in December and returned to the country in January last.
Belal earned about Tk 50 lakh by cheating about 600 fortune seekers while Sabuj made about Tk 1 crore from over 1,000 people.