With medical letters stating that one is COVID-19-free a requirement for travel in Indonesia these days, some of the dodgiest entrepreneurial minds have been producing fake letters and selling them across e-commerce platforms in Indonesia, raising concerns that the practice could potentially exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Screenshots of one such fake medical letter used the letterhead of a renowned private hospital. As shown in the viral screenshots, the letter was being sold for as low as IDR70K (US$4.7) while some were sold for millions of rupiah on e-commerce platforms.
“Yay, we can buy [the medical letter] lho… you can go on mudik only [by paying] 70 thousand… see what we said yesterday, it’s all monetized in the end,” one tweet reads.
Mudik is the annual homecoming exodus that regularly sees up to 30 million Indonesians returning to their hometowns for the Eid holiday. As concerns rise over the possibility that mudik might spread COVID-19 from urban centers to rural areas, the government announced in April that the practice is banned for this year.
Mitra Keluarga, one private hospital chain implicated in the fake medical letter scam, denied having any connection with the seller through a statement issued yesterday, and further warned that those caught using the hospital’s image can face legal consequences.
“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 statement letters,” the statement reads.
“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.”
In addition, e-commerce giants Tokopedia and Shopee have stated that those products have been taken down from their platforms and that the sellers’ accounts have been suspended. Over in Bali, three people were arrested in connection with alleged sale of fake medical letters, which have reportedly been used by passengers to cross to Java from Gilimanuk Port.
With limitations currently in place amid the mudik ban, passengers of any mode of transportation are required to present several documents to be allowed to travel. This includes, among others, a letter signed by their superiors that states their reason for travel and a medical letter stating that one is COVID-19-free. This policy refers to a circular from Indonesia’s COVID-19 rapid response team, which is based on regulations issued by the Health Ministry and Transportations Ministry, among others.
Passengers are expected to show these documents to the authorities and Health Ministry officials stationed at the port of departure. Failure to present the documents will result in passengers being denied from carrying on with their journey.