Why would a person pretend to be a doctor: see patients, prescribe medicine, and collect co-payments… and how do they think they can get away with it? No, I’m not referring to the well-known collection of quacks that practice medicine in Nigeria, or the so-called cosmetic rejuvenation “professionals” who pump silicon into unsuspecting patients, but those individuals who set up practices and hold themselves out to be medical professionals.
The latest scam doctor is an 18-year-old boy, Malachi Love-Robinson from West Palm Beach, Florida who acquired space in a local medical building, calls himself Dr. Love-Robinson, indicates he holds a PhD, and other certifications, and recently opened his clinic “New Birth New Life Medical Center and Urgent Care, LLC”. According to website healthgrades.com, Dr. Love-Robinson specializes in naturopathy, psychology, and mental health, and is 25-years-old.
His website “http://www.nbnlmedicalcenter.com touts him as a well-rounded professional who utilizes physiological, psychological, and mechanical methods, such as air, water, heat, light, earth, phototherapy, electrotherapy, physiotherapy, mechanotherapy, naturopathic corrections and manipulations, and natural methods or modalities, together with natural medicines, natural processed food, and herbs and nature’s remedies.
Lending credibility to his practice, he displays the name and photo of his Operations Director, Michelle L. Newsome, who he candidly admits is a faith-based, happily married grandmother with limited experience in the medical field. Dr. Sandra J. White is his Program Director. She worked with a HIV/AIDS organization and holds an honorary Doctorate in Divinity.
After treating an undercover member of the West Palm Beach Sheriff’s Department Love-Robinson was charged with two counts of practicing medicine without a license, one count of grand theft, and four counts of fraud. One of his alleged victims was an elderly woman who paid $3,500 for a stomach treatment.
Love-Robinson’s clinic is no clandestine, underground medical facility, which suggests that he naively believes he can legitimately treat patients with his holistic, spiritual brand of medicine. He even fooled his grandfather who reportedly said, “Once he opened up the office and the practice I felt like it was something legit that he’s trying to do.” Unfortunately for patients desperate for health care, there are individuals with no credentials who will take money and provide treatments that have no scientific foundation.
Donald Lee-Edwards, age 43, from Staten Island, is another flagrant example of fraudulent medicine. The self-professed clinical psychologist and medical doctor treated over 100 patients from his basement suite office over a three-year period before he was arrested for multiple counts of fraud, impersonation, distributing controlled substances, and other related charges. His office looked like the real thing with a waiting room with a seating area, a front desk and treatment rooms. On the shelves were blood vials, urine samples, and medical equipment. He was a former flight attendant and eyebrow threader who had no medical training or credentials.
His scam was exposed in 2015 when patients became concerned that he was sharing personal information about his patients to others, prescribing drugs under another doctor’s name, and generally conducting himself in a way that was far from professional. He even had a Yellow Pages ad marketing his services.
Perhaps the most notorious fraudster, who pretended to be a pilot, a lawyer, and a doctor is Frank Abagnale, the subject of a book and movie called “Catch Me if You Can”. Mr. Abagnale impersonated these professionals when he was in his late teens and early 20’s, spent five years of a 12-year sentence in prison, in various jurisdictions, and later turned his life around, admitting that his earlier pranks were immoral, unethical, illegal, and dangerous to the public. He was later hired by the FBI as an expert on forgery and document theft.
As consumers of medical services, a person can never be too careful. All may not be what it seems.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang