Going to the dentist isn’t something that we usually scrutinize to ensure our chosen practitioner has the necessary schooling and degrees that prove he’s a dentist. Usually, we opt for doctors or dentists who are recommended by our social circle, or, more likely, the ones covered by an insurance plan. Usually, the expectation is that they’re qualified; after all, masquerading as a dentist wouldn’t be the easiest scam to perpetrate.
In San Antonio, WOAI-TV News 4 recently published a news story by Jaie Avila using a hidden camera that might be surprising…
WOAI-TV received a tip from a resident and sent their “Trouble Shooters” reporter to investigate a woman’s claim that a dentist she’d been referred to had caused physical harm. The news team took the dentist’s name and checked it against the state’s records: the dentist was not a licensed practitioner in Texas.
So, WOAI sent out their investigator, who booked an appointment with the so-called dentist. The office looked much like any other, with what seemed to be “normal” dental tools and equipment in the office. Unfortunately for people in need of care, a trip to this dentist resulted in unnecessary procedures, painful injuries, and terrible infection.
The video below depicts Rebecca Galvan, the tipster that initiated the news team’s investigation, who willingly told her story on the station. Galvan claims that Eugenia Velazquez called herself a dentist, sported a business card that said “doctor,” and worked in a local medical building.
However, when Galvan got her work done, the dentist didn’t provide any pain medication or antibiotics during her procedure–pulling several molars and a root canal!
Following the surgery, Galvan was in so much pain that she couldn’t hear, and her gums soon were infected. She spent months in agonizing pain before calling WOAI-TV. After checking on the “dentist’s” license, one of the station’s photographers went undercover to an appointment with illegal dentist. After some questioning and a routine exam, the photographer gets the fake dentist to state: “Mm-hmm … I started working with my uncle, who was a dentist so I learned a lot from him.”
After identifying himself as a reporter, the fraudulent dentist refuses to answer questions. The whole investigation was caught using a body-worn camera.
Authorities arrested another mock dentist whose office was next door to Velazquez’s, and are investigating Velazquuez. According to police, the pair were targeting lower-income Spanish speakers with no insurance. The patients paid in cash, and may have been afraid to file complaints because they emigrated to the United States illegally.
A San Antonio police sergeant stated, “We think this is the tip of the iceberg; I think there are a lot more dentists out here and doctors that claim to be doctors and dentists and they’re not.”