MSSNYeNews: February 24, 2021 – Phishing Scam Targeting You–Licensed Professionals
State Education Department warns of Phishing Scam targeting Licensed Professionals
The New York State Education Department today is warning licensed professionals in New York State about a scam involving telephone calls from individuals posing as NYSED Employees or law enforcement officials to defraud and extort victims. The scam is targeting such licensed professionals as physicians and pharmacists, and is seeking the professional’s social security number and an immediate bond payment under the guise that the professional’s license has been suspended and payment is required to reverse the suspension and avoid further charges.
The New York State Education Department will never telephone or fax any individual to request a bond fee or payments related to an ongoing investigation of professional misconduct. If you receive such a phone call, please hang up immediately and report it to the proper law enforcement authorities.
“It is truly unspeakable that during the challenges of this pandemic there are individuals intentionally seeking to defraud the nurses, pharmacists and other professionals who have been heroes through all of this,” said Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. “I encourage anyone that receives a suspicious call to immediately contact the FBI and your local law enforcement officials to report the incident. Thank you all for everything you have done throughout the pandemic.”
Commissioner Betty A. Rosa. “We will work with our partners in law enforcement in any way possible to ensure those responsible for this scam are brought to justice. New Yorkers should be aware that the Department will not telephone any licensed professional to seek a bond fee at any time and should report any such call immediately.”
The 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 stating that the professional’s license has been temporarily suspended and in order to have their license reinstated, they must pay a bond fee via bank wire transfer, which would be refunded to them if they were cleared by an investigation.
Using phone “spoofing” technology, the phone calls and faxes appeared to come from real government agencies. Numerous pages of official looking documents that appear to be from New York State, the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, Trans Union and the New York State Office of Professions are then sent to these licensed professionals which contain publicly available information including their license number, National Provider Identifier (NPI) number, name, address, and other personal information. To complete the documentation, licensed professionals are asked to complete a box in which their social security number is requested.
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). 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. You should also file a report with your local police precinct. Additionally, notify the Federal Trade Commission and visit Identity Theft Recovery Steps to learn how to mitigate your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft.
This article was published in Friday’s Enews. If you missed this scam story, we republish it so that you may be warned.
MSSNY Member Details a Scam Re His Medical License by Purported State and Federal Officials
Below please find a concerning message from one of our valued physician members detailing an account that took place this week and involved indivduals purporting to be State and Federal officials. For the sake of honoring the integrity of this member’s account, I have shared the member’s direct message below:
Here are the details of my experience yesterday that I would like to let other members be aware of.
My Medical Assistant took a call yesterday morning from someone identifying himself as Albert Rossi from the State Education Department, Office of Professions, Division of Licensing Services. He said that he needed to talk to me about a problem with my NY Medical License. When I got on the phone, he told me that I was under investigation and connected me with someone who said he was Brian Hobbs, the Chief Investigating Officer, Unit 3.
I spent most of the morning and a good part of the afternoon on the phone with this person. He told me that my license was being suspended at the order of the FBI and DEA because I was the prime suspect in an investigation involving illegal drug trafficking and money laundering. At times, he would call someone that he said was an FBI Agent named Robert Johnson who then was part of a 3-way call with me.
They faxed me official looking documents that are attached to this email. [Please click here to view those documents Scam Faxes.pdf, which have been redacted for privacy reasons]. The first one stated that my license was suspended. He then told me my options were to consult a lawyer and fight these allegations in court. If I did that, I would not be able to practice medicine until the case was resolved.
The other option was that I could agree to cooperate with the investigation. Even though the evidence appeared to show that I was involved, they suspected that I was set up and my DEA and license were being used by someone else. They hoped that my cooperation would help them find the real culprit. If I agreed to cooperate, they would be able to re-instate my license within 48-72 hours. I was told that I would have to post a bond of $15,600 to have the license re-instated and this would be refunded once the case was resolved.
I did sign the cooperation agreement, but then I was able to confirm with the State Education Department that there was no action against my license. The caller ID on their call was the real number for the State Education Department. This whole scheme was well rehearsed and very convincing. They preyed on the fact that I desperately didn’t want my license suspended. They insisted that I stay on the line with them while all this was transpiring and would put me on hold while they prepared or reviewed the attached documentation, etc. They insisted that I not hang up or talk to anyone else because it could compromise the investigation. This was obvious a ploy to prevent me from getting anyone else to help me figure if this was real or a scam.
Doctors Say Supplying Them with Vaccines Would Solve Many Problems
In an article in today’s Buffalo News, MSSNY past president Dr. Tom Madejski and MSSNY past Speaker of the House of Delegates and AMA past president Dr. Nancy Nielsen make a strong case for the need to get COVID-19 vaccines into physician’s offices.
“For all these people with underlying conditions, let them go to their physician,” Dr. Nielsen said. “Docs know how to vaccinate. They do it all the time. They also know who in their practice needs it the most. They just need vaccine.”
“Vaccine hesitancy is one of the other reasons that we need to give vaccine to physicians’ offices,” Dr. Madejski said, “because the best person to have a robust discussion with a patient who’s concerned about being vaccinated is their personal physician who knows their health history, can really put the risk and benefit of the vaccine versus the disease in the context of that particular patient.”
Interested in Joining Premier Group Purchasing? Call MSSNY’s Dedicated Rep!
MSSNY has a group purchasing partnership with Premier Group Purchasing to provide lower operating costs and improved access to supplies and products for members who sign on to purchase through Premier negotiated agreements.
Click the links below to access specifics on the program:
Continuum of Care Overview: High level overview of the Premier program and the value it provides
GPO FAQ: Questions and answers to further introduce Premier and explain the program
Physician Practices information sheet: Provides value proposition of the Premier program, followed by specific suppliers and contracts members will be able to access, broken down by category
What to Expect: Step by step onboarding guide for members.
Hospitalizations Fall for 40 Days; Masks May Be Needed in 2022, Fauci Says
Daily COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. have been declining for 40 days, or since Jan. 14, reports The COVID Tracking Project.
The U.S. is seeing the lowest daily number of hospitalizations since Nov. 7, with 56,159 COVID-19 hospitalizations recorded Feb. 21. Experts have pointed to a variety of explanations for decreasing numbers, such as more widespread mask use and a growing number of people who have been vaccinated, reports The New York Times. However, some experts warn of a “fourth wave” if people become complacent, states lift restrictions too quickly or more contagious variants become dominant.
Health Officials Plan to Stick With Two-Dose Coronavirus Regimen
The U.S. government’s top infectious-disease doctor, a leading drug regulator and the Health and Human Services secretary are dismissing suggestions that the second shot of authorized coronavirus vaccines could be delayed to make more doses available faster to more people. In recent days, some public health experts have debated whether it is worth taking a scientific gamble by altering the two-dose regimen that proved highly effective in trials to maximize the number of people partially protected with at least one shot as the pandemic surges. With so many dosages sitting unused, Florida and New York governors warned medical facilities that they risk fines or future allotment cuts if they don’t accelerate covid vaccinations.
NYC: Most expensive US cities for Scripts
New York City patients pay 24 percent more than the national average for prescription medications, making it the most expensive city for prescription drugs, according to a list published Feb. 19 by prescription discount service GoodRx.
To compile its list, GoodRx examined the prices of the 500 most common prescriptions in 30 of the country’s most populous cities.
Five most expensive cities for prescription medications:
- New York City: 24 percent above the national average price
- Los Angeles: 13.7 percent above the national average price
- San Francisco: 13.6 percent above the national average price
- New Orleans: 12.3 percent above the national average price
- Milwaukee: 11.2 percent above the national average price
February 25 Update!
CANCELED FOR THIS WEEK ONLY!
Please join the NYS Department of Health
Thursday, February 25th at 1 – 2 PM
for a COVID-19 update for healthcare providers
To accommodate the large number of participants, find our webinar streaming via YouTube Live (and available for viewing immediately thereafter) on the NYSDOH COVID website for providers
February 25 Update!
CANCELED FOR THIS WEEK ONLY!
Vaccine Monitor: Attitudes Re Vaccination Among Black Women and Men
The latest from the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor finds that Black men (45%) and women (41%) are more likely than other groups to want to “wait and see” how the COVID-19 vaccine works for others before getting it themselves, making them a key target for public health officials seeking to boost vaccination rates equitably. This analysis explores similarities and differences in the attitudes of Black men and women toward COVID-19 vaccination. Highlights include:
· Providing accurate information about side effects may be key to communicating with this group. Among those not yet vaccinated, large shares of Black women (87%) and men (61%) say they are worried they might experience serious side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine. Many Black women (69%) and men (65%) who have not yet gotten the vaccine also say they do not have enough information about vaccine side effects.
· About one in five (19%) Black women say they “definitely will not” get vaccinated for COVID-19, larger than the share of Black men (7%) who say the same. This greater reluctance may be related to Black women’s higher levels of concerns about side effects. In addition, among those not yet vaccinated, many more Black women (68%) than men (38%) say they worry about contracting COVID-19 from a vaccine, suggesting that learning that doesn’t happen could influence their decision.
· About half of Black women (53%) and men (45%) say that they trust the health care system to do what is right for them and their community “only some” or “almost none” of the time. This suggests addressing historic mistreatment and inequities in the vaccine distribution process could help outreach efforts aimed at vaccine hesitancy among both Black women and men. Available through the Monitor’s online dashboard, the new analysis also probes the messages that make Black men and women more or less likely to want to get vaccinated, as well as their confidence in the fairness of vaccine distribution efforts.
Read the Report
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