Chinese workers buying $50 fake sick notes to watch World Cup games

Ryan Bailey
June 11, 2014
(Tabao/The Telegraph)

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It is quite difficult to be excused from work with a chronic case of "football fever," so many Chinese workers are heading online to buy fake hospital sick notes so they can catch the action from Brazil.

Most World Cup games will kick off between midnight and 6 a.m. in China, so those who wish to watch live will either have to entirely forgo sleep or miss the start of their work day.  Therefore, the website Taobao — the Chinese equivalent of eBay — is doing a roaring trade in counterfeit sick notes.

A pad of sick notes can be bought for as a little as 1 yuan ($0.16), but an authentic-looking note with a hospital stamp and doctor's signature can cost up to 300 yuan ($50).

The Telegraph managed to purchase one of these notes, which would give time off during England's match with Italy this weekend:

The apparently legitimate note and accompanying medical record purport to be from the respiratory department at Shanghai’s Ruijin Hospital, one of the city’s best.

“Diagnosis: upper respiratory tract infection. Suggestion: one day of sick leave,” reads a dark blue scrawl on the document, alongside no less than four official-looking stamps.

Dated June 15, the note was actually produced more than a week earlier by fraudsters from a company called Shanghai Sick Notes.

The sick notes are highly illegal to produce, and can result in five years of jail time for the counterfetiers, which is why they cannot be found under a direct search for "fake sick notes" on Taobao. World Cup fans will instead meed to look for much more subtle-souding "proof of diagnosis" notes.

The notes may help plenty of Chinese evade their responsibilities to enjoy the beautiful game, but they do not have a 100% success rate. “A fake. My company discovered and now I’ve been sacked,” says one unlucky commenter on Taobao.


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Ryan Bailey is a writer for Dirty Tackle on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!