Scammers pose as Department of Health officials in fraudulent schemes targeting medical providers

OLYMPIA – Warning to health care professionals with Washington licenses: Beware of scammers falsely claiming to represent the Washington State Department of Health – and don’t send money to anyone without being certain of the recipient’s identity.

That comes in the wake of at least two apparent attempts to defraud Washington providers. One attempt failed, but the other proved costly to a dentist.

In that case, the dentist received a call from someone spoofing the Department of Health’s telephone number, along with two bogus faxes. One claimed to be from the Department of Health. The other claimed to be from the federal Department of Justice. The scammer went to the trouble of copying and using actual logos from both agencies.

The fake Department of Health fax falsely said the dentist’s license was suspended. In a misguided attempt to resolve that, the dentist wired more than $40,000 to an account in Warsaw, Poland – an account that has nothing to do with the Department of Health.

In the second case, a licensed pharmacist reported receiving phone calls from a Department of Health number. The calls, however, did not come from the agency. The pharmacist reported being told her license is under investigation, which it isn’t. After being asked questions to which the pharmacist knew the Department of Health would already have the answers, she hung up. Nevertheless, the same person called back multiple times and left voicemails.

The Department of Health will never ask providers to wire money to save a license. If any issues do arise potentially affecting a health care professional’s Washington license, that person will receive written communication by mail and/or by email from an investigator at a verifiable Department of Health email address. That investigator would also provide a Department of Health phone number to contact with questions.

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