On Saturday morning a man went up to El Talar long distance bus terminal, in the Buenos Aires province of Tigre, to get a bus ticket. The employees informed him the price of the ticket and an additional cost for a service that he had not taken into account: They required the mandatory payment of a negative swab certificate which, as they reported themselves, was required at their destination.
The man distrusted the maneuver, he went to the 6th Police Station in Tigre and denounced them.
The accusation prompted a brief investigation that that same Saturday afternoon resulted in an emergency search at the request of prosecutor Sebastián Fitipaldi, on duty at the UFI of El Talar. After that operation, seven employees of the companies La Santaniana and La Guaireña were charged with the crimes of falsification of public instrument and fraud.
The Buenos Aires Police officers interviewed several other passengers who had bought tickets from both companies -which usually make trips within and to Paraguay- at the scene. and they reconstructed the dynamics of the scam with their testimonies.
The employees received the customers and in the middle of the transaction they informed them, with no other alternative, that they had to pay as well a sum of between $ 3,000 and $ 4,000 -the prices vary according to the witnesses- for a swab to be able to travel.
Many of them even they waited for a doctor or nurse to come and test them.
What they received was simply a piece of paper, a black and white A4 sheet with letterhead from a laboratory located in the Buenos Aires town of Wilde, Avellaneda district, and the electronic signature of a biochemist together with the result of the alleged PCR test: forever “NO DETECTABLE”.
The police, together with personnel from the National Transportation Regulation Commission (CNRT), raided premises 13/14 and 16 of the terminal and they seized almost a dozen computers and documentation with information about the apocryphal PCR certificates that were marketed together with the tickets.
The seven defendants, Argentines and Paraguayans between 19 and 38 years old, as confirmed to Infobae a source with access to the file, they have already been notified of the criminal case against them.
The researchers will now try to determine if the biologist whose signature verifies each certificate was involved in the maneuver. or if, how they think it happened, the employees used a document from their laboratory to replicate and modify at will with the information of each scammed person.
On the other hand, if the destinations to which the passengers were traveling indeed requested a swab with a negative result to enter, The crime punishable by article 205 of the Penal Code could also be added to the accusation., which indicates a prison sentence of six months to two years, to anyone “who violates the measures adopted by the competent authorities to prevent the introduction or spread of an epidemic.”
A similar antecedent to this type of surgery took place in the city of Buenos Aires, in April 2021. At that time, three women were arrested for being responsible for a false medical office in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Recoleta where fake coronavirus detection tests were offered at $ 3,500.
Prosecutor Sebastián Fedullo of the 12th Prosecutor’s Office also ordered the closure of the premises, the hijacking of a Ford Transit ambulance and other evidence against the women, accused of violating article 208 of the Penal Code and illegally practicing medicine.
In this operation, the PCR tests not authorized by the ANMAT, a device to perform electrocardiograms, test tubes, documentation, computers, medical supplies and cell phones were also seized.