Beware...Don't Get Scammed by "Patients"

I received an email about a week ago requesting my services. Here is the email:

Hello,

My name is Rebecca Horton; I will be going on my annual leave on the 27th
of March and my daughter & I will be coming to Texas on holiday for 1
month. We will be staying from Sunday 29th of March 2015 to Wednesday 29th
of April 2015. I require the services of a Speech-Language Pathologist,
though this could be done rather flexibly for the entire period of our
stay. I will require your services for 2days each week and for 1 session
of 1hour or 90mins each depending on your availability.

I am a single mother and my daughter (Susan Horton) who is 5years old has
a speech-language disorder. Over the past 5months her stuttering has
become very severe each time she is talking. As a result of her severe
stuttering each time she’s trying to speak, she seems to have developed a
sense of shyness and feels ashamed of talking when she’s in public. I have
taken her to my doctor for a thorough medical check-up and was informed
she is physically and medically okay. My doctor says that the severe
stuttering could be as a result of anxiety or stress from the death of her
father and advised me to see a speech-language pathologist who specialize
in communication disorders. Over the past 1 month I have hired the
services of a speech-language pathologist and I’ve noticed that she finds
each therapy session very relaxing, energizing and it has helped improve
her speaking ability.

Since we are going on a 1 month holiday I would like my daughter to have a
speech therapy program during our stay in Texas. Her speech-language
pathologist here in the UK recommends she takes at least 2 therapy
sessions each week while she’s on holiday in order for her to continue her
rapid progress. I believe the more time she spends with you, by the end of
our holiday’s her speaking ability would have significantly improved. I
would greatly appreciate your thoughts, recommendation and the total costs
for your services (number of sessions required: 8).

I’m 44 years old and a senior accountant, working with Corona Foods
Limited here in the United Kingdom. I will be happy to pay in advance of
our visit to guarantee your services during our stay. I will bring my
daughter to your clinic/practice for each therapy sessions. I look forward
to hearing from you, many thanks.

Best regards,
Rebecca Horton
54 Leopold Road
London, SW19 7JD
United Kingdom

Sounds pretty legitimate right? As I began to reply, I noticed that she revealed many details that were almost too personal, but were appropriate for a fluency diagnosis. This included the death of a parent (an even so traumatizing, it might contribute to stuttering onset) as well as the public shame and shyness. I thought, why is this woman trying to prepay? That is not a normal thing. "To the Google!" I shouted, and sure enough came up with a practically identical email with only names changed. The email was published with a warning about scamming SLP's.

So what's the scam? Apparently, these people are targeting private practice Speech Language Pathologists, and our human qualities. These people want you to agree to provide the services in advance (seems okay), and then they send you a check for WAYYYYY over the amount for the specified number of services, and then request a reimbursement for the difference. Meanwhile, they demand the difference quickly so you send them a check before their check has a chance to clear. (Which it obviously doesn't, and then you just paid someone a bunch of money for nothing.)

So friends, do not fall victim to this scam. Spread this blog around so that other, less tech savvy SLP's are aware. This is a scam, don't get duped.

 

-ATVC

Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She rehabilitates voice and swallowing at her private practice, a tempo Voice Center, and lectures on vocal health to area choirs and students. She also owns and runs a mobile videostroboscopy and FEES company, Voice Diagnostix. She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 3, Voice and Voice Disorders, and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Pan-American Vocology Association. Knickerbocker blogs on her website at  www.atempovoicecenter.com. She has developed a line of kid and adult-friendly therapy materials specifically for voice on TPT or her website. Follow her on Pinterest, on Twitter and Instagram or like her on Facebook.

Posted on March 24, 2015 .