Dental Marketing May Have Helped Dentist Arrest Thieves

Dental Marketing May Have Helped Dentist Arrest ThievesIt would seem a little dental marketing can even help reclaim stolen property.

Florida dentist Bill Strupp experienced a dentist’s worst nightmare: having thieves break into his dental practice to steal computers and dental equipment.

They also made off with Dr. Strupp’s sports memorabilia collection which included an official Heisman football, dozens of signed Yankee baseballs and three signed Yankee bats given to him by his friend and dental patient, George Steinbrenner.

He desperately wanted the stolen items returned.

So he decided to use some Internet dental marketing by placing an ad on Craigslist offering a reward for the return of the stolen property. Dr. Strupp must have written a great ad, because someone called offering to sell the sports memorabilia back to him.

That someone seemed like the thief.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that Strupp played along with the caller and promised not to call the police.

“Immediately, as soon as I hung up with him, I picked up the phone and called (Clearwater police) Detective Jonathan Walser,” Strupp told the Times.

In working with the police Dr. Stupp agreed to meet the caller in a local shopping mall to obtain the sports collection and his computers in exchange for $10,000. When the thieves approached Strupp to handover the stolen property, Clearwater police moved in and arrested the suspects.

A search warrant helped find more of Strupp’s missing dental practice items, but not all.

Strupp told the Times, “I’m just flabbergasted that anybody would be that stupid to try to sell something back to somebody after you stole it from them!”

Maybe it was the great Internet dental marketing he used to write that Craiglist ad.

For more on this story see: Dentist bites back: Craigslist ad leads to arrest of two in stolen property case

Dentists Often Embezzled – Thieves Rarely Prosecuted

Dentists often embezzled, but thieves rarely sent to prisonDentist office embezzlement is a major issue at dental practices, but most dentists don’t even realize how widespread the problem of dental embezzlement is.

I’m a total cynic when it comes to dentists being embezzled. I’ve spent over 20 years uncovering over 100 thefts. I’m fully convinced that it happens all the time. (In fact, one of my surveys found that most dentists report being embezzled.)

The vast majority of embezzlement cases never go to trial. (And we’re not even talking about all the theft that is never even uncovered in the first place!) Usually, the offender is fired, and that’s it. If charges are filed, 9 out 10 times there will be a plea bargain which results in probation for a first-time offender.

Only on rare occasions do you see the dental embezzler fully prosecuted and taken through the court system. This only happens if the case has has been fully investigated, all the details uncovered, and everything tied up with a big bow by the doctor (and the the doctor’s attorney and private investigator) and handed to the district attorney for prosecution.

Recently, one such case resulted in a five-year prison sentence for the miscreant. The 25-year-old woman, a Texas dentist’s financial clerk, pleaded guilty. Here’s the news report:

U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle… sentenced [defendant Claire Batsell] to 69 months in federal prison on a count of fraudulent use of dental patient identification information and a count of aggravated identity theft.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Batsell used patient information to open and bill credit card accounts for services. In addition, she pocketed cash payments made by the patients…

Dentist DavidPedley was unaware of Batsell’s scheme and said her actions almost destroyed his practice and damaged his reputation…

In a statement before Tagle, Pedley said the thefts affected the credit of some of his patients and “imposed a huge financial burden on him and his family to pay back the credit card company for the fraudulent charges made by Batsell.”

– Laura B. Martinez, The Brownsville Herald

While it’s morally satisfying to see someone held accountable for their wrongdoing, I have to say: if it was just the doctor losing money, this case probably wouldn’t have been prosecuted. Identity theft is a hot consumer issue right now… while employees stealing from their dentist employer is somehow stale and commonplace.

View all our stories about dental practice embezzlement


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