New phishing scam targets doctors, pharmacists, state agency warns

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The state Education Department is warning licensed professionals in the state about a scam involving telephone calls from individuals posing as department employees or law enforcement officials to defraud and extort victims, the department said Wednesday.

The scam is targeting such professionals as physicians and pharmacists, and is seeking social security numbers plus immediate bond payments under the guise that their licenses have been suspended and payment is required to reverse the suspensions and avoid further charges.

The state Education Department said it will never telephone or fax any individual to request a bond fee or payments related to an ongoing investigation of professional misconduct. The announcement added “if you receive such a phone call, please hang up immediately and report it to the proper law enforcement authorities.”

The announcement said police and impacted licensees have reported to the department that the phishing scam involves a phone call from an individual claiming to represent New York State. The individual states the professional’s license has been temporarily suspended and in order to have the license reinstated, the professional must pay a bond fee via bank wire transfer which would be refunded if the professional were cleared by an investigation, the announcement added. Numerous pages of official-looking documents are also sent to the licensed professionals. To complete the documentation, licensed professionals are asked to complete a box in which their social security number is requested, said the Education Department.

The department said “If you have lost money in such a scam, immediately notify your bank and file a report with the FBI at Internet Crime Complaint Center(IC3)” at https://www.ic3.gov online. It added “this must be done quickly, usually in less than 72 hours, for even a very slight chance of recovering any money sent by bank wire transfer.” Also, “you should also file a report with your local police precinct. Additionally, notify the Federal Trade Commission and visit Identity Theft Recovery Steps” at https://www.identitytheft.gov to “learn how to mitigate your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft.”

The department further said professionals wishing to check the status of their current registration and ability to practice can do so by visiting the NYS Professions - Online Verifications page at http://www.op.nysed.gov/opsearches.htm online.

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