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NYS Education Department warning New Yorkers about phishing scam targeting physicians, pharmacists

With this scam, the caller says they represent New York State and claim the professional's license has been suspended, claiming payment is required to reverse it.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The New York State Education Department is warning New Yorkers about a phishing scam that is targeting licensed professionals such as physicians and pharmacists.

According to the state education department, individuals are posing as employees from the New York State Education Department or law enforcement officials to extort victims.

The scammers use "spoofing" technology to make their phone calls and faxes appear as if they're coming from real government agencies.

With this scam, the caller says they represent New York State and claim the professional's license has been suspended. The caller says a bond fee must be paid via bank wire transfer in order to have their license reinstated, and to avoid additional charges. The caller claims the bond fee would be refunded if the licensed professional was cleared by an investigation

The New York State Education Department goes on to say that numerous pages of "official looking" documents — which appear to be from New York State, the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, Transunion and the New York State Office of Professions — are then sent to the licensed professionals, including publicly available information. This information may include their license number, National Provider Identifier (NPI) number, name, address, as well as other personal information.

The victims are then asked to complete the documentation by filling out their social security number.

The New York State Education Department says it will never call or fax an individual requesting a bond fee or "payments related to an ongoing investigation of professional misconduct."

Anyone who receives a call like this is being told to immediately hang up the phone and report it to local law enforcement, or the FBI.

“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,” Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said.

“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.” 

The New York State Education Department is advising anyone who may have fallen victim to this scam to immediately notify their bank, as well as file a report with their local police department and file a report with the FBI. It's also advised that the victim also notifies the Federal Trade Commission.

According to the New York State Education Department, these actions must be taken quickly for a chance of recovering any money.

“The commitment of our front-line workers and licensed professionals to their fellow New Yorkers has been unwavering throughout the pandemic, which is why this scam is so reprehensible,” Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said.

“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.”