Nation & World News

Want Time Off To Watch The World Cup? China Has Just What The Doctor Ordered

By Frank Langfitt on June 12th, 2014

Need time off from work to watch the World Cup? If you’re in China, no problem. Online stores there are providing fake doctor’s notes — even extensive falsified medical records — to get you days of sick leave so you can enjoy your favorite teams.

The service may be particularly appealing, given the time difference with World Cup host Brazil. China is 11 hours ahead of Rio. So if you want to catch opening matches, you have to start watching at midnight, Shanghai time.

I’m not a big soccer fan, but I wanted to order my own doctor’s note just to see how the process works. My news assistant contacted an online retailer that traffics in all kinds of medical records. For $33, I received a doctor’s note from a famous Shanghai hospital as well as an extensive diagnosis. The document, which arrived by courier, said I was suffering from gastroenteritis and would need five days of rest. It was signed by a Dr. Hu.

It gets better. The medical records state that Dr. Hu saw me Sunday, June 15 — three days from now. So, the suggested rest period perfectly coincides with the coming workweek.

Flat-screen TV and sofa here I come!

The company that provided the fraudulent documents sells all kinds of medical records on a site it runs on Taobao, the eBay of China. Death certificates and surgery records go for $15. Results for blood tests, urine tests, ultrasounds or CT scans run $50. A DNA paternity test goes for $100.

The official stamp on my documents appeared authentic, but the letterhead looked like it came from a desktop printer. Curious to see whether the Shanghai hospital knew anything about this, I went in search of Dr. Hu.

At the hospital, I showed the documents to some nurses, who shook their heads. They’d never seen medical records like mine. They called Dr. Hu, who said she’d never heard of me and hadn’t signed anything. The nurses said her signature appeared to have been forged.

Not all fake sick notes are such lousy forgeries like mine. My office mate, a correspondent with the BBC, used a different supplier and got a fake sick note for the same hospital that looks exactly like a real one. And he paid only half of what I did, so I feel like I got ripped off.

It’s hard to say how big the market for fake doctor’s notes is. Today, NPR contacted our supplier to ask about our records. He said he was so busy with orders yesterday, he didn’t even remember us.

Taobao, which is owned by Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce company, has tried to crack down on the fake-doctor-note racket by blocking search terms to keep customers from finding online peddlers. But tweak a few search words and you can still find somebody who will provide you a written diagnosis for gastroenteritis — or any other illness you want.

Frank Langfitt is NPR’s Shanghai correspondent. You can follow him @franklangfitt.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

A Palestinian man mourns alongside the body of a one-and-a-half year old boy, Ali Dawabsheh, during his funeral in Duma village near the West Bank city of Nablus on Friday.

Arson Attack That Killed Toddler In West Bank Is Called Terrorism

An 18-month old died in the fire. The perpetrators scrawled slogans in Hebrew on an outside wall of the house. Palestinian leaders blamed the Israeli government.


The Ebola vaccine from a trial in Guinea needs to be kept at a temperature of minus 60 degrees Celsius, the World Health Organization says. Storage devices use jet fuel to keep the right temperature for up to five days in the field.

New Ebola Vaccine Has ‘100 Percent’ Effectiveness In Early Results

The trial of the VSV-EBOV vaccine was called Ebola ça Suffit — French for “Ebola that’s enough.” Researchers say it’s both effective and quick, with no new Ebola cases 6 days after vaccination.


In Report, Justice Accuses St. Louis County Family Court Of Racial Bias

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division found that the court fails to provide children adequate representation. In addition, it says the court treats black kids harsher than white ones.


People are silhouetted against a nearly full moon as they ride an attraction at Worlds of Fun amusement park Thursday, in Kansas City, Mo. July 31 marks the second full moon of the month, a rare occurrence that has come to be known as a "blue moon."

Tonight, Look For A Rare (But Not Quite Blue) Moon

The modern definition of a “blue moon” has nothing to do with its color.


Beijing's National Stadium or the Bird's Nest will be used for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2022 Winter Games.

Beijing Awarded The 2022 Winter Olympic Games

With the selection, Beijing will become the first city to host both winter and summer games. Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Games.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments