May 4, 2014

Health Scams and Diabetes Con-Artists

This is an odd coincidence. During the middle of April, I received a call from someone saying they were from the Joslin Diabetes Center, had heard that I had diabetes, and had something that they wanted me to participate in as part of a trail. It sounded interesting until the request for money came to cover my transportation to Chicago to be interviewed to see if I qualified for the trial.

The tip-off was when they requested $1,500 for airfare and taxi from the airport. I can drive from my home to downtown Chicago and back home for about $100 at the current gas prices. And I saw no need to travel to Chicago for what could be done over the telephone for a trial interview.

Then to have a blog from Joslin Communications on April 16, on diabetes health scams written in anonymity really had me wondering if my calling the person on the telephone a scammer may have been right on target and maybe it was actually a Joslin employee. No, I don't think that, as Joslin does not call people unless they are an established patient or have responded to call for trial participants.

It is a shame that Joslin Communications does not identify their bloggers as the blogger of this article did a great job of covering some of the types of scams targeting elderly patients. Not covered was the type of scams con-artists attempt by using the names of medical centers or other diabetes organizations. Scammers have a way of using names of recognized medical centers to lend authenticity to their scam.

Yes, using your own brain and a healthy dose of common sense is your best defense against fraud. While everyone to used the trite saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” scammers are also adding some reality and big name medical centers to make it more realistic. Diabetes is one disease that draws con-artists and they know they have a captive audience that is searching for the elusive cure. Because the treatments can be hard on the pocket, many people with diabetes are desperate for a cure as this is the twenty-first century after all.

Most people are in such a panic about having diabetes and don't realize that diabetes can be managed with nutrition, exercise, and medication. Unfortunately, a cure does NOT yet exist. But because people with diabetes often think that there is a cure, they are often gullible to con-artists.

Since I agree with what the Joslin blogger said for things to do and not to do, I will quote their list. “Things to do & not to do:
  1. Never give out financial information over the telephone unless you have initiated the call. Government agencies, Medicare, and legitimate diabetes organization do not ask for your financial information over the telephone without you initiating the call.
  2. Report fishy calls to the Office of Inspector General OIG Hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or online at Be sure to include the company’s name, telephone number, and address if you know it and a summary of your conversation with the caller.
  3. Check your Medicare Summary Notice and other medical bills to make sure you weren’t billed for things you didn’t order or billed multiple times for the same item.
  4. Do not accept things you haven’t ordered. If you haven’t opened the item, you can refuse delivery or return the item to the sender without paying additional postage or delivery fees.
  5. Check out any supplements you are considering taking at the Office of Dietary Supplements and inform your health care provider before taking a supplement. Look for the US Pharmacopeia, or Consumer Labs seal on supplements you do buy. This will assure you that what is in the bottle matches what is on the label.”

It is also a shame that many doctors are so against supplements that they will not test for deficiencies so that you can know whether you actually need the vitamin or mineral. I can agree that most are available in the foods we eat, but as we age, develop certain diseases or conditions, and limit some of the foods, our bodies sometimes become incapable of utilizing what is in some foods.

Please realize that unless you are a patient at a medical center, you generally will not receive calls from them. If they insist on giving you a telephone number, do record it, call your telephone provider, and ask if the number is a legitimate telephone number for the medical center. Most telephone and cell phone companies will do this free or a small fee.

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