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8 nabbed for at least MOP-497,000 health voucher fraud

Eight men and women comprising a doctor running a Western medicine clinic and seven people working for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) pharmacy including its licensee and a TCM practitioner were arrested on Tuesday for their alleged involvement in a digital health voucher fraud of at least MOP 497,000.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:47 am

Eight men and women comprising a doctor running a Western medicine clinic and seven people working for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) pharmacy including its licensee and a TCM practitioner were arrested on Tuesday for their alleged involvement in a digital health voucher fraud of at least MOP 497,000 (US$62,300), Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesman Ho Chan Nam said during a special press conference on Wednesday.

The eight suspects are a 32-year-old local Western medicine physician surnamed Kuong, a 72-year-old local man surnamed Leong in charge of the TCM pharmacy and his 49-year-old son, who is the licensee of the TCM pharmacy, a 75-year-old local TCM practitioner surnamed Ho, and a man and three women working for the TCM pharmacy, aged between 35 and 67.

According to Ho, Kuong owns a clinic located in a shopping mall in the northern district and also works as a school doctor. Kuong redeemed government-issued health vouchers worth MOP 4.49 million that he had received from 4,383 residents between June 2018 and April this year.

According to Ho, Health Bureau (SSM) staff reported to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) in July last year that a number of digital health vouchers had been abnormally settled in a clinic since June 2018 through Kuong’s clinic’s digital account with the government.

Judiciary Police officers discovered that even when Kuong was working at the school or when he was not in Macau, his clinic recorded 622 digital health vouchers worth MOP 497,000.

According to Ho, after PJ officers discovered that some digital health voucher holders did not actually visit Kuong’s clinic for treatment, instead they went to a nearby TCM shop to buy medicines at a 30 per cent discount, and handed their identity cards to the TCM staff for the vouchers to be cashed at Kuong’s clinic.

Ho said that all the eight suspects refused to cooperate with the police.

Ho noted that six other local residents were previously transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) for alleged fraud in the same case. They allegedly did not receive any medical treatment but merely used the vouchers to purchase medicines from the same pharmacy, comprising housewives, cleaning workers and building administrators, aged between 40 and 76.

Ho said PJ officers would continue to investigate whether more residents are involved in the fraud. He urged the public not to use their digital health vouchers to purchase medicinal materials or to commit other illegalities, otherwise they would be held criminally responsible.

Judiciary Police (PJ) officers arrested 12 men and women two months ago who worked for a clinic, a TCM pharmacy and a dried seafood shop, for having used more than 11,000 local ID cards since May last year to obtain digital health vouchers through fraudulent means, cheating the government out of more than MOP 9 million.

The eight suspects in the latest case were transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) on Wednesday, facing charges of document forgery, computer fraud, and fraud involving a considerable amount, officially defined as exceeding MOP 150,000, according to Ho.

(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © Iong Tat Choi/The Macau Post Daily

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:47 am

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