KATHMANDU, July 31: A major insurance scam by Nepal�s trekking and mountaineering agencies has been unearthed after a government probe found that they were involved in fake helicopter rescues and hospital treatment of foreign tourists, according to a media report.
A government fact-finding committee in its 700-page probe report to Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari said that unscrupulous operators have been pocketing thousands of dollars from insurance companies by making multiple claims for a single chopper ride or pushing trekkers to agree to airlifts for minor illnesses, the Kathmandu Post reported.
There were widespread complaints that Nepal�s trekking and mountaineering agencies had been making claims against their customers� tourist insurance policies for fake helicopter rescues.
They have been accused of presenting fake bills for wide-ranging medical examinations for simple altitude-related headaches.
As many helicopter operators do not conduct rescue operations directly, �middlemen� or trekking and mountaineering agencies arrange helicopter rescues and make fake private clinic bills on which they get a hefty commission, the daily quoted a member of the fact-finding panel as saying.
�Making false travel insurance sickness claims when you are not ill is fraud, and there are many agencies involved in the illegal business in Nepal,� the unnamed official was quoted as saying.
Trekking companies get hefty kickbacks when hikers are evacuated from the mountains. � PTI