Police Arrest 40 Phony Doctors, Pharmacists

View of Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Police on Sunday arrested 40 individuals accused of presenting false diplomas and certificates attesting to their status as doctors, interns and pharmacists. The individuals presented certification issued by universities in Armenia, but were issued the certifications after only a very short period of study, the Health Ministry claimed. The individuals used the certifications to receive licenses to practice in Israel.

The arrests all took place Sunday morning, with the detainees arrested at their homes. Several were working shifts at hospitals when they were nabbed. The Health Ministry filed a complaint on the fraud with police, which launched a months-long investigation to collect evidence on the suspects. Police said that the individuals were aware that they were acting fraudulently. A number of them succeeded in passing licensing tests for their positions.

Some of the institutions that issue the “certifications” do not exist but others are legitimate universities, police said. The individuals were taken to Armenia and studied at the institutions for about a month, after which the certifications were issued. It is not clear if the administrators of the institutions were involved in the fraud.

Nearly all the detainees were from the Arab sector. Police said that in the homes of some of the detainees they confiscated literature associated with the plot, in Arabic, promising candidates who were unable to get into programs in Israel an opportunity to study in Armenia or Georgia, and get certified in Israel. All the suspects will be arraigned Sunday, and police plan to ask for an extension of their remands.