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Beware of Dental Impersonation Scams: A Dentist's Tale of Deceit

by Wes Read, CPA, CFP® | October 13, 2023

In today's interconnected world, scams and online frauds have become increasingly sophisticated and prevalent. The dental industry is no exception to this deceit.

We share the story of a dentist we personally know here at PracticeCFO, who ended up being the target of this very crime. Read on to hear their experience and learn valuable insights on how you can protect yourself from falling victim to similar scams.

Please note, while this article is meant to be informative, it should by no means be taken as legal advice. If needed, please consult with a dental attorney or legal professional for further guidance

A month ago, this dentist - who we will keep anonymous - was contacted by someone who claimed to be a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agent. It all started with a seemingly innocuous phone call to their dental office. An individual, impersonating a DEA agent, had set up an appointment to speak with them. A few days later, the dentist took the call, and the imposter began their web of deceit. He claimed that two criminals had been apprehended with narcotics, along with handwritten prescriptions that bore their DEA number, NPI number, license number, and even their signature.

Due to how sophisticated this scam was, the dentist complied with his request to send a copy of a prescription with their signature. They provided him with all the information he "claimed to have" - but didn't actually possess. They were drawn into the charade by the gravity of the situation, their concern for their reputation, and fear for their personal safety. Just as the imposter wanted. 

The scam then persisted. The dentist continued to receive daily communication from this imposter, claiming that other crimes had been committed under their name.

As anxiety grew, so did the realization that something seemed a bit off. The dentist luckily had a connection to a former FBI agent, who they ended up reaching out to for input. Immediately, the FBI agent recognized that this was an elaborate scam. Realizing the gravity of the mistake, the dentist immediately cut off communication with the scammer and reported them to the FBI. They are now awaiting further guidance from them and contemplating reaching out to the DEA as well. Thankfully, no major damage had been done.

What exactly can dentists take away from this story? What measures can they take to keep themselves, and their practice, safe?

  1. Stay Calm and Think Critically: Scammers often use fear and urgency to manipulate their victims. It's essential to maintain composure and think rationally when faced with alarming situations.
  2. Verify Identities: Always verify the identity of individuals claiming to be law enforcement officers or officials. Don't hesitate to contact the relevant agency directly to confirm their credentials.
  3. Never Share Sensitive Information: Avoid sharing personal or financial information over the phone or via text messages, especially with unknown individuals. When it comes to staying cyber-safe, reputable companies will ensure that sensitive documents are shared securely. Examples of this can include but are not limited to using secure online file portals, such as Box, Intralinks, NetClient, etc., keeping documents password-protected, utilizing an ironclad firewall, and so on. If you see sensitive document security being blatantly disregarded, that is a red flag.
  4. Seek Professional Advice: If you suspect a scam, consult with professionals who can provide guidance and help assess the situation objectively. If you have the budget, hire a dedicated IT company for your practice. Robust cybersecurity in this day and age - especially as a business owner - is critical.
  5. Report Suspicious Activity: Don't hesitate to report any suspicious calls or messages to the appropriate authorities. Timely reporting can help prevent others from falling victim to scams.

We have seen instances where dentists have had to shell out tens of thousands of dollars because they fell victim to a scam or a hack. While it's fortunate that this incident didn't escalate to that level, it was still a chilling experience that shook this dentist's sense of security and trust.

It serves as a stark reminder that in today's digital age, scammers are increasingly cunning. By sharing this story, we hope to raise awareness on the dangers of impersonation scams and encourage all dentists to remain vigilant and cautious in their online interactions. Remember, it's always better to err on the side of caution when dealing with unfamiliar situations, especially when they involve personal or financial information.

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Disclaimer: The marketing materials presented on this website include testimonials that serve as reviews of PracticeCFO Investments’s products and services. PracticeCFO Investments does not compensate clients for reviews or testimonials, and PracticeCFO Investments does not provide anything of value in exchange for these reviews. PracticeCFO Investments has determined that there are no material conflicts of interest between the firm and the participant, and PracticeCFO Investments has not influenced the statement made by the client(s) appearing on this website.
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