Doctor: Crooks hijacked office's contact info to run pill mill

Miya Shay Image
Friday, July 14, 2017

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- While Dr. Roland Maldonado was busy seeing patients this week, someone went on the internet and changed all the contact numbers on search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo. The phone number on the Yelp page was even changed.

Dr. Maldonado and his staff had no idea until patients came into the office complaining that their phone calls weren't being returned.

"When they were calling that other number, patients were getting mad at us because we weren't returning their phone calls," said Dr. Maldonado, who runs Midtown Family Medicine. "We never even knew they were calling us."

As it turns out, Dr. Maldonado was the victim of an elaborate scam. Investigators said effective crackdowns on pain clinics have forced crooks wanting pills to get creative and higher-tech.

"What the criminals will do now is, instead of going to the clinics since there is a crackdown on illicit pain clinics, they'll just hijack a doctor's [prescription authority] DEA number and generate their own prescriptions," said Sr. Houston Police Officer John Kowal.

"They usually go to an independent pharmacy. They usually try to stay away from the chain pharmacies to get the fake prescriptions filled," he said.

ABC13 called that fake phone number for Dr. Maldonado's office while standing next to him. A woman answered and we asked to make an appointment. The woman put us on hold and never returned to the phone.

Police said that's because the crooks only use the number as a ruse for pharmacists who look up a doctor's information to verify a prescription. Changing the Google search results to the fake number helps make the offices seem legitimate when a pharmacist calls to make sure prescription is genuine.

Dr. Maldonado has filed a police report and called the Drug Enforcement Administration, but the bigger challenge is getting all the internet search engine results changed back to his real phone number.

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