Recovered: Police say they found six silicone fingers at the time of the doctor's arrest.

Recovered: Police say they found six silicone fingers at the time of the doctor's arrest.

Five doctors at a Brazilian hospital have been suspended for allegedly covering for absentee colleagues by using fake silicone fingers to fool biometric machines.

Thaune Nunes Ferreira was arrested on Sunday for signing in six co-workers to the biometric employee attendance device at a hospital in Ferraz de Vasconcelos, Sao Paulo.

There might be as many as 300 hospital employees who do not exist, except for fake fingers with their prints, but who get paid anyway. 

Ferreira had six silicone fingers on her person when she was arrested, three of which have already been matched to the fingerprints of fellow employees, police say.

Globo television showed footage of a doctor touching her finger to the device, then using two fake digits to do the same for colleagues, and taking delivery of slips of paper indicating they had in fact clocked in to work.

That way it looked like there were multiple doctors on duty when there was in fact just one.

The woman told police six other doctors were in on the scam.

"She says she was innocent because it is a condition they imposed on her to keep her job," said Celestino Gomes Antunes, the woman's lawyer.

Another television network said it was the head of the emergency room that ran the scam and that his daughter had not worked a day in three years but got paid all the time.

The mayor of Ferraz de Vasconcelos, Acir Fillo, said there might be as many as 300 hospital employees who do not exist, except for fake fingers with their prints, but who get paid anyway.

AFP