Criminals impersonating as doctors – BEWARE!

Got this in my email.

I have heard of this before in a lot of hospitals. I thought it has stopped.

So, patients and relatives, beware of this scam. ONLY give payment to your doctor directly, to his/her secretary in his /her clinic, or to the hospital’s cashier. Nobody else!

Doctors, pls. inform your patients of this scam.

Dr. Rey

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New scam/MO: Criminals impersonating as doctors
by Bernice Varona on Monday, June 4, 2012 at 12:26pm ·

I didn’t think that we would fall victim to this scam, but then again it just shows that we all have to be vigilant and extra careful nowadays. I am writing this to warn others to be wary as this MO is being done in private hospitals.

As most of the people know, my mom was hospitalized last week because of UTI and high fever. Last Saturday, we (my sister Carla, her daughter Penny, and several of the household help) were visiting my mom when the phone rang around 4:45PM. I answered the phone, and the person on the line (who I thought was the switchboard operator) asked if this was room 611 and if the patient in the room was my mom. I answered yes to both, and the operator switched the line. My mom’s doctor answered the phone and asked to talk to my mom.

After several minutes of conversation, my mom gave the phone to my sister for her to jot down some details. Apparently, my mom’s doctor had several delegates coming in and he wouldn’t be back in his clinic to give the petty cash to his secretary, Linda. He asked if it was possible for my mom to give P12,900 to the secretary as she needs it, and that she will be in his St. Luke’s The Fort clinic until 5:30 and SM MOA by around 6:30. My mom said that she’ll have us go to give the money.The doctor then said he will be going to visit my mom tomorrow morning before her discharge from the hospital.

After Carla wrote down the details, I volunteered to go instead of Carla since I wanted her to stay with her daughter Penny, and also since she arrived at the hospital later than I did and thus spend more time with Mama. So I went with my mom’s driver to SM MOA since the doctor said we might not reach Linda in time at St. Lukes Global City. When I left, Carla tried to call the doctor again to tell him that I will be going instead of her. She kept getting a “not in service” response and decided to text him instead. A few minutes later, the phone in my mom’s room rang again and Carla talked to the doctor to say that I will be going instead.

At around 6:30PM I arrived at SM MOA and went to Breadtalk, which was the appointed venue where I will meet Roseatte. I texted the doctor (Carla gave me his cellphone number which was dictated to her via phone) to inform him I was at SM MOA already. At around 7PM a young woman (around late twenties, early thirties) with long brownish hair and cat like eyes approached me. She was also wearing purple and had a semi-fair complexion. She greeted me and said that Dr. Cecil Tady (my mom’s doctor) sent her to get the envelope for Linda, the secretary. I gave her the envelope with the money and we both left Bread Talk taking separate ways.

At this point, you all probably know what the scam is. The person who called up my mom in the hospital room was not Dr. Cecil Tady, but an impersonator. The impersonator knows enough personal information (like my mom is Dr. Tady’s patient, that the doctor has a very malumanay-Filipino voice, and the clinics and visiting hours of the doctor) to not raise suspicion during his conversation with my mom. He even knew that my mom will be discharged the following day, and that Dr. Tady will be visiting in the morning (as what was said when the real doctor visited my mom after lunch of the Saturday). We all talked to the impersonator, but not one of us thought he was different from Dr. Tady, and besides the calls were coursed through the hospital phone in the room. We learned we have been scammed the following day when the real Dr. Tady visited my mom before her discharge: my mom asked if he received the money and Dr. Tady didn’t know what she was talking about. He then called security upon knowing the details of the story.

This is apparently a new MO by criminals who abuse the doctor-patient trust: they know enough details not to raise suspicion, plus they know just how much to ask for (too much and usually people tend to become wary). After talking to security about what happened, we learned that the hospital was using a call center for the incoming calls and anyone can now call the patients in their rooms (before the front desk of the hospital would ask the caller details etc. before letting the call through). Also, the security said this wasn’t the first time it happened. I remembered being shocked at how much information the perpetrators knew and how smooth the operation was. There is the possibility of an informant within the hospitals who supply the details needed to enforce the doctor-patient trust/relationship. The security also told me it was a good thing I didn’t do anything upon meeting the “secretary/Roseatte” since it’s possible that she wasn’t alone and had back up should things go amiss at Bread Talk.

So for everyone out there, please be careful. I am just grateful that nothing worse happened- the loss of the money is nothing compared to anyone getting harmed. Please be careful when getting calls if you are confined or if someone you know is confined in the hospital, and has a similar MO to this. Try to verify first by calling your doctors before doing anything, or just don’t entertain the caller and inform security immediately. You never know when this could happen to you, so be on your toes at all times. Also, the MO could change so please be vigilant.

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