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There’s a scam targeting doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, but you could be a part of the cure.

Posing as “sheriff’s deputies,” crooks call medical personnel and claim “You missed a court date to testify as a witness.” Threatening them with fines or even arrest if they hang up, the caller makes the inevitable demand for money. Go to the courthouse, doctors and nurses are told – or make things easy on yourself by paying now with gift card numbers. In another variation, the caller poses as a “DEA agent” and threatens the person with legal action because their prescription number is being used to traffic drugs. Again, the caller may offer the gift card number option in lieu of fines or arrest. 

It’s all a scam, but the fraudster often makes the call sound legit by using the name of a real law enforcement officer and falsifying their caller ID information. The caller may even drop in tidbits about the doctor or nurse’s employer, background, or practice to make the script sound even more convincing.

The most recent spate of calls have been placed to medical professionals in the Cleveland area – hats off to the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad for warning Ohio practitioners – but we’ve seen variations in other parts of the country targeting attorneys, architects, etc. For example, imposters claim to be from the State Bar or other licensing authority. They say the person’s license has expired and they need to arrange payment by the close of business or face immediate suspension. The common thread is that the people targeted are licensed professionals whose names are publicly available.

If you’re a healthcare provider – or a lawyer, architect, contractor, beautician, or anyone else with a licensed career – share this advice with others in your professional community, spread the word in your newsletters and email updates, and mention it at your next in-person meeting:

  • Real law enforcement officers will never call you to threaten arrest.
  • Real law enforcement officers will never demand that you pay fines immediately over the phone.
  • Only scammers will demand immediate payment by cash, gift card, crypto, payment app, or wire transfer.

And if you know a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional, please forward this alert to them.

Learn more about gift card scams and how imposters – even ones who impersonate the FTC – commit fraud. Report scams to us at


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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