“Fake Helicopter Rescue Scam” case has become viral in Nepali aviation sector at the present time. The issue of ‘Fake Rescue scam’ came up in the attention of high authority after various hospitals, trekking agencies, helicopters companies claimed for higher insurance.
International insurance companies have instructed Nepal government to take action against those organizations which are found guilty and clear all the scam in order to get insurance service. Global insurance companies have emphasized to stop fake rescue by 1st September.
3 helicopters companies: Manang Air, Air Dynasty and Heli Everest, 8 Travel and Rescue companies: Himalayan Social Journey, Mountain Rescue, Kailash Charter, Easy Heli, Eagle Heli, Flight Connection, Alpine Rescue and Mountain Heli whereas 4 hospitals: Vayodha hospital, Swacon International Hospital, New Era hospital and Ciwec Hospital are found guilty under the investigation conducted by Query team.
These helicopter companies charged thousands of dollars to insurance companies of sole flight or presenting fake bills for wide-ranging medical examinations for normal altitude-related headaches. The committee shared the criticism that companies even provided food mixing baking soda or laxative or contaminated food to tourists to make them pale and demand for rescue.
As reported in AFP, the official of the probe committee has heard of cases where tourists have been made intentionally ill and realized 63 percent profit margin by a number of companies and hospitals issued bills over Rs 6 million.
The fact-finding panel told that there is an agent that coordinates with helicopter companies and hospitals to conduct evacuation and create fake medical statements trying to get a commission. The probe team was formed in June and submitted its report to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) on 30 July 2018.
Danny Kaine of Traveller Assist, a UK-based company to facilitate global insurers in Nepal shared a view that fake rescue have been operated in Nepal since 2 years and they have been working on effectively to shrink pricey losses. He said that three major insurance company from UK, Australia, and the US are also discussing on possibilities of terminating all the travel insurance policies for Australian, American and British tourists visiting Nepal
The probe committee discovered that over 1300 rescue flights had been conducted in the first five months of the year which cost more than $6.5 million to insurers.
The government has circulated the concerned body to take action against 15 organizations, which are found guilty for charging huge amount of money from the tourists by the investigation department. MoCTCA has sent a letter to various five bodies including the Ministry of Home Affairs to take action against those organizations. 8 trekking and rescue companies, 4 hospitals, and 3 helicopter companies are found guilty.
According to the revenue leakage (Research and Control) Act, 2052, the team has also recommended Department of Revenue Investigation Department to carry out an appropriate action with the proper investigation. The fact-finding panel probed 10 helicopter companies, six hospitals, and 36 travel, trekking and rescue agencies following complaints filed by tourism entrepreneurs.
The ministry has sent a correspondence letter to the Office of the Prime Minister, Home Ministry, National Bank, Revenue Investigation Department, Health Ministry, Metropolitan Police Committee.
This fact-finding committee has recommended Nepal Police to be given the responsibility of monitoring such tourists rescue operations from this September 2018 to mitigate any of such insurance scams in future that has damaged the country’s reputation.
It is widely believed that Government’s action to stop the Heli Rescue Scam will boost the travelers’ confidence to visit Nepal with proper insurance at its best cost thus the country will be able to meet its target to welcome 2 million travelers on the Visit Nepal year of 2020.