Fake sick notes are being sold on the internet to perfectly healthy people faking their bids to take time off work. The authentic-looking documentation, bearing real doctors' names, has no official link to sick notes given by GPs to patients unable to work.
But despite the worrying nature of the product, www.doctorsnotestore.com are advertising the fake sick notes, which retail for as little as €29.99, to customers hoping to take a number of days off work without being ill.
The fake documentation, which is described as "professional-looking fake doctors' notes and sick certs from an Irish general practitioner", bear a marked similarity to the real sick notes.
They carry a real doctor's name attached without their knowledge alongside fake information about the buyer's supposed illness, the number of days to be taken off, and the facility supposedly attended.
Detailing the product on its website, the suppliers of the fake sick note state that "the doctors' cert... is not real, but is based on real ones. They come with real Irish doctors' names and real Irish medical facility names on them".
The site also emphasises that it can guarantee next-day delivery. And while a small disclaimer on a linked page claims that the products on offer are for "novelty" purposes only, the same disclaimer notes:
"The customer will accept full responsibility for their actions which involves the use of our products."
Despite describing the fake sick notes as "novelty" products, the website's testimonial section quotes one customer as saying: "I have been using your fake doctors' note service for five years, now I get an extra two weeks' holiday every year."
Another notes that they claimed a refund on their holiday "from my insurance using one of your excellent doctors' letters".
Describing the situation today, Irish College of General Practitioners spokesperson Dr Mel Bates told the Herald that any sale of a fake doctor's note was "an abuse and undermines the entire doctor-patient relationship".
And warning of an employer clampdown, the GP added that ultimately the people who will suffer the consequences of the fake sick note site will be patients who are genuinely ill.
"What is really worrying to me is that these notes are based on real doctors' names. It is a very bad, very worrying development," said Mr Bates.