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GPs targeted in stolen wallet scam

LMC leaders are warning that ‘dozens’ of GPs have had their wallets stolen during consultations and funds later withdrawn from their bank account.

They warn of a racket in which a temporary registered patient steals a GP’s wallet during a consultation, and later phones the practice reception impersonating the fraud investigation team at a bank.

GPs report that they ask questions about unusual or fraudulent activity on the card, ask the GP to confirm personal details and finally ask for the PIN number for the stolen credit card.

The racket has led to one GP losing £2,500 and concerns over the safety of medical records and prescription pads, with GPs considering installing CCTV and locking cabinets in consulting rooms.

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs said he was aware of ‘dozens’ of examples of this scam being reported in the last two years.

‘Some GPs fall for it - and should report it’ he added.

Dr Rob Howlett, a GP in North Essex lost £2,500 as part of the scam, and said he knew of eight other GPs who had also been robbed, and that some GPs may feel too embarrassed to admit they were taken in by the racket.

He said: ‘The first thing you feel is hurt, you’re shocked you’ve been robbed by one of the patients. They didn’t steal from other patients so it’s clear GPs have been identified as an easy target.’

He added: ‘I thought “Oh God, is there a prescription pad in my desk? Should we put CCTV in the building?” We are thinking about locked cabinets in the room because there are medical records lying around.’

Readers' comments (2)

  • Making it a requirement for all patients, both permanent and temporary, to provide proof of ID might go some way to preventing incidents such as this. Whilst the DH recommend checking ID as best practice they won't go as far as making it a requirement (yet). If a patient is going to thump you or rob you, you can at least do something about it if you know who they are....

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  • The answer is simple: don't leave anything valuable (or potentially valuable) in a place where it can be snaffled.
    At our local practice, one of the nurses had her bag taken; afterwards a lock was put on the intervening door from the waiting room to the surgeries.
    I was a teacher and always trusted no one. Personal items were locked away in a filing cabinet in the classroom.However, a shiny, new CD player soon disappeared from its place in the classroom, where it was not locked away. That was in a RC school.

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