Massage Therapist Scam Continues: Florida Department of Health Continues to Investigate Massage Therapy Schools Which May Be Involved in Selling Phony Degrees, Certificates and Transcripts

Tuesday, February 10, 2015
We have recently become aware that the Florida Department of Health (DOH) and the Board of Massage Therapy are continuing to investigate and audit various schools in Florida with massage therapy programs.  There is a concern that many licensed massage therapists may have used fraudulent documents such as transcripts and course completion certificates from these schools to become licensed illegally.

The Florida Board of Massage Therapy is a professional board under the Florida DOH. The investigators in such cases work for the Florida DOH.


DOH and Board of Massage Therapy Send Letters Seeking Information on Fraudulent Students to Various Massage Therapy Schools.

Currently, the Margate School of Beauty in Margate, Florida, near Pompano Beach, seems to be one school that is being audited for such reasons by the Board of Massage Therapy.


To see a copy of a letter from the Board of Massage Therapy seeking such information on licensed massage therapists who may be suspected of having submitted fraudulent documents, click here.  To review a copy of the school's response showing there might be a large number of licensed massage therapists who falsely indicated they took courses at the Margate School of Beauty, click here.


Deja Vu All Over Again!

This seems like deja vu.  Back in September 2012, there were press releases from Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Surgeon General's Office regarding massage therapists who had allegedly purchased fraudulent documents showing they had completed Florida-required course work in order to apply for state licenses.  These individuals were described by Governor Scott and the Surgeon General in the press releases as being part of "human trafficking groups."  Click here to see the press release of September 19, 2012, and click here for the press release of September 26, 2012.

There was extensive press coverage of these incidents in 2012. I previously blogged about the story as well, to read my earlier blogs, click here and here.

However, our experience in speaking with and representing a number of these licensed massage therapists was that they were not involved in human trafficking.  In fact, the massage therapists were the victims of a school employee who stole their money and then did not register them at the school.  It was the school's employee who issued the official school documents to these massage therapists without following the school's established procedures. This scheme was unknown to the massage therapists.

The massage therapists, almost all of Asian origin, who challenged actions by the DOH to revoke their licenses, succeeded.  Many of the facts surrounding what actually happened can be obtained from the Administrative Law Judges' decisions in these cases.  For examples of decisions in which the massage therapists were exonerated of any wrongdoing, click here to review the decision in DOH, Board of Massage Therapy vs. Peng or click here to review the decision in DOH, Board of Massage Therapy vs. Cui.


Class Action Lawsuit Pending Against Massage Therapy School Where Employee Allegedly Sold False Documents.

There is currently a class action lawsuit filed against the Florida College of Natural Health that was involved and caused the 2012 press releases to be issued.  To see a copy of the class action complaint (lawsuit), click here.

If you are a licensed massage therapist and you receive a letter, call or visit from a DOH investigator, you should call an attorney at The Health Law Firm, before talking or making any statementsClick here to contact us.


Comments?

Do you think the DOH should do more to advise foreign speaking health professionals living in the U.S. of such scams?  Do you think more could be done to assist foreign speaking residents to avoid being ripped off by con artists who prey on them with schemes?

Current laws require hospitals and health facilities to have translators available for any languages spoken by patients; do you think the DOH should have translations of its documents available on its website? We would like to receive your comments on these issues.


Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in the Representation of Massage Therapists.


The attorneys of The Health Law Firm are experienced in representing massage therapists and other licensed health professionals and facilities in DOH complaints and in administrative hearings.  We are also experienced in and familiar with the matters in this blog.  Whether it is an investigation, charges, an administrative complaint, or litigation of any kind, contact us before you make a decision.


About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.


Keywords:  Florida massage therapist, massage therapist attorney, Department of Health Investigation, Board of Massage Therapy, massage therapist scam, phony massage therapy documents, health fraud, administrative complaints, massage therapist attorney, massage therapy scam, phony massage therapy schools, defense attorney, DOH complaint, DOH investigation, investigation of massage therapist, human trafficking, administrative hearing attorney, fraudulent massage therapy programs, The Health Law Firm reviews


The Health Law Firm" is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. - The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
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By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in the Legal Specialty of Health Law 2/10/2015

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