The Washington State Department of Health reminds healthcare providers to be on alert for scammers posing as DOH officials or pretending to be Drug Enforcement Administration agents in an attempt to make providers think they are in trouble with DOH or the law, and in danger of discipline or loss of license.
An ongoing fraud ring has been preying on healthcare practitioners for the last year. Individuals using the Washington Department of Health (DOH) or Medical Commission (WMC) phone numbers, email addresses, and web URLs are posing as DOH officials or pretending to be Drug Enforcement Administration agents in an attempt to make providers think they are in trouble with DOH or the law, and in danger of discipline or loss of license.
These bad actors research specific practitioners and attempt to exploit them using personal information. If they are successful, they move forward with requests for money or information to help them carry out additional scams.
Recent near-victims of this scam were:
- Sent papers with official looking letterhead from WMC and U.S. Department of Justice - the letters contained forged signatures of WMC officials and fictional investigative staff.
- Called by someone claiming to be looking into their “over-prescribing of opioids.”
- Told they were under official investigation for drug related charges and that their license was immediately suspended.
- Told not to check DOH’s website because that would mean they were guilty.
- Recipients of emails that had wmc.wa.gov or doh.wa.gov in the address.
Indications that a communication from a state regulator may be fraudulent:
Real regulatory agencies do not:
- Ask you for money.
- Ask you to respond to any action in less than twenty days.
- Advise against speaking with your own lawyer.
- Ask you to confirm personal details, passwords, or social security numbers.
How can I protect myself from this scam?
- Never click on links or download suspicious attachments.
- Don't fall prey to a manufactured urgency. A vital component of this fraud is the urgency of request or demand. If you are contacted by a regulatory agency, you will have a legally protected amount of time to respond.
- Verify requests before you act. Verify with DOH that paperwork of any kind has been sent to you by calling: (360) 236-4700.
- Restrict your personal information online. Scammers leverage personal information from social media accounts or other public forums.
What can I do if I am a target of this scam?
Act! If you have verified that you are the target of a scam, file a complaint with the State Attorney General or file a complaint with the FBI Internet Crimes Unit and contact your local police department right away.
Please help spread the word about this scam by sharing this information with your friends, family, and colleagues.