Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Something has happened that confirms to me I am moving my mom close by just in the nick of time. I'm gonna write about it for any of you who have elderly parents living "without a net" so to speak.

This past Sunday when my mom got home from visiting me, she opened her mail to find a very odd letter. The letter was from a doctor's office in "Other City", not her city, and from a doctor she does not know, nor has ever had any contact with. Inside was a form and a note. The form was a cheesy looking xerox and the note was hand written from a "Christy". The request was for her to fill out the form with all her personal information, including social security number or the appointment will be cancelled, and to bring it with her for her "appointment" on August 27. My mom told me about this right away.

*cue Starsky and Hutch theme*. I immediately got on the internet and googled the doctor. He's legitimate. Monday morning I called the "Other City" police department. Spoke with "Secretary" of the street crimes unit. They were off duty on Monday, but she had really good advice and information. She knows the doctor and confirmed he's a fine fellow. She also said I had to contact my mom's city's sheriff department because there may be jurisdiction issues. Plus the fact that a crime has not actually been committed. This was more like a "pre-crime". I guess something like, just because you bought the cake mix, doesn't mean you've made the cake or even intend to make it. In legal terms.

I called Mom's City's sheriff department and spoke with an officer. He said that they did not have any task force or unit for identity theft and the best they could do would be to send an officer to look at the letter. This is actually good to know.

Next, I called the doctor's office as my mom. I don't there is a crime on the books for "impersonating your mother" and I don't believe my mom will file charges against ME for identity theft, so I figgered I was clear to do this.

Guess who anwered the phone? Yup. Christy herself. Here's how it went:

Me: "Helloooooo. I am calling because it seems there is a mistake."

Her: "Oh? What kind of mistake?"

Me: "Wellllll. I got this letter from you in the mail asking me for information regarding an appointment on August 27"

Her: "What's your last name?"

Me: (I give it). "And you see I don't have any appointment with you on August 27. I don't even live in your city and I don't even know this doctor."

Her: "Hmmm. That is so strange. This is about your left ankle."

Me: "Welllll, my left ankle is just fine. You know, dear, I really think you ought to call the po-lice."

Her: (starting to sound alarmed) "The police? Why?"

Me: "Wellll, this really does sound like i-den-ti-ty theft to me."

Her: (sounding more alarmed) "Identity theft?"

Me: "Why yes dear. And the po-lice ought to be in-formed."

Her: "Don't do another thing now. I will handle everything from here."


I have given young Christy more than a day to call the police. Secretary of street crimes unit in "Other City" informed me today that she has NOT called the po-lice.

I have a next step planned, and will tell you what that is tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here's what I figure: It's not someone pretending to be my mom to get free medical care. If that were the case, they would not have sent a request for information form directly to my mom. They would have come at her a different way. It's also not happened before this because my mom got on the phone with various agencies to insure no other fraud has yet been committed. My crackpot theory, that I allege, is that this 'Christy' is "phishing" for patient information. I've never known of a doctor's office to send out information requests prior to just a regular appointment. They will ask you to come in early to fill out paperwork. But not solicit this by mail. I cannot think of any other possibility. My mother has no knowledge of this doctor, has no "left ankle" issues, would have not had any of her doctors refer for an appointment. So there is no basis from which this letter could have legitimately issued.

Here's what the "tells" were for me: She was the one who answered the phone. She ended the conversation quite abruptly when I mentioned "police" and "identity theft". And she has not called the police.

Anyone got any other ideas?

Updates to follow.......Stay tuned.


robert austell said...

Suggestions... yes. And sorry for just jumping in here, but your story was so intruiguing! And I can just imagine my own mother getting taken advantage of in this way.

My suggestion: get in touch with the doctor. It sounds like Christy is the phishy one.

Cathy said...

i want you to do my detective work for me when I need it. Are you certified? :)

SpookyRach said...

Wow! I'm the one in the background doing the dragnet theme and writing stuff down in a little black notebook.

This is reeeeally interesting!

Presbyterian Gal said...

Robert, thanks. I'll let you know. Sounds like that to me too.

Cathy, not certified. Just certifiable.

Rach, dragnet theme. I like that better than Starsky and Hutch. Though the boys were much cuter in S&H.

Detective conversation:
"M'aam, can I be frank with you?"
"Not fair! It's my turn to be Frank".

No updates yet. Nothing at all more may come of this. But I have one more little thing to do.

Quotidian Grace said...

You might try calling the District Attorney's office and asking how to file a complaint for attempted identity theft. They have investigators and might already have similar complaints.

Will you be my Attorney General when I'm elected Mom of Congress????

mompriest said...

Wow. I'm so glad she called you and you were so willing and able to do the detective work...

Diane said...

yeah, I agree that you should try to talk to the doctor personally... because Christy does not seem legit. But what a weird scenario! Good luck getting everything straightened out! And it's good that you are there for your mom.

Serena said...

Oh my ... more good book material! And definitely think you should be Mom of Congress's Attorney General.

Seriously, I too am glad your mom called you... and look forward to hearing rest of this story as it evolves.

Jan said...

Wow--what a story, and it's true to boot. I'm so glad your mom called you; she's a sharp lady, which is why you are, too! Would the Better Business Bureau have anything to do with physicians? How about the local physicians association? I guess that would come after talking to the doctor.

Purechristianithink said...

I wouldn't be so sure the doctor isn't in on it--reassurances that he is a fine fellow notwithstanding. To me it seems like the only way "Christy" could get away with this for any length of time would be for her to have a partner (or several) within the organization. Otherwise she'd have to be sure she took every phone call, retrieved every voice mail, and intercepted every letter or e-mail that might come in with someone asking questions as you did.

Thus says PCIT: Girl Detective

Gannet Girl said...

Wow, what a racket. You can come and be my detective anytime.

I did btw get advance paperwork to fill out and mail in the last time I had an appointment with a new gyn. I lost it of course. But I did have an actual appointment -- at which they asked all the same questions anyway. Twice.