From parking valet to plastic surgeon: Extreme fraud could have been prevented with simple reference checks

On February 6, 2019, Matteo Politi was arrested in Romania while trying to leave the country by train. The Italian national had been posing as an experienced British plastic surgeon in Romania since 2016 and was only exposed when a colleague became suspicious of his unorthodox surgical methodology. By this stage, Mode had performed numerous surgeries at four private hospitals across Bucharest.

How he got away with it

Operating under the name Matthew Mode, Politi had no medical training and according to Romanian media, only completed his schooling to the eighth grade when he left school to become a parking attendant.

Yet despite his lack of education, Politi’s fake CV was impressive – ‘Matthew Mode’ gained his medical qualifications at the UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside Hospital and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the United States. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has since told the New York Times neither Matthew Mode or Matteo Politi ever studied there.

Politi obtained his health care provider identification code, which allowed him to practice in Romanian clinics, from the Public Health Direction (DSP) using a fake diploma from the faculty of medicine in Pristina, Kosovo.

Worse still, Politi had previously been convicted in Italy for a similar felony – in 2011 he posed as a doctor, using forged documents to work in several hospitals and holding lectures at a plastic surgery training centre in Verona.

How his fraud could have been prevented

Matteo Politi used his medical rubber stamp – obtained from the Public Health Direction (DSP) using a fake Kosovan medical diploma – to fool his employers. A simple check to verify his professional qualifications, previous employment and references could have exposed not only the false diploma but also his two non-existent medical degrees and lack of employment in Britain, the country the fake surgeon ‘Matthew Mode’ claimed to be from.

Additionally, by obtaining a Police Check from the countries in which Politi had resided, his fraudulent past would have been revealed.

Conducting due diligence by way of thorough candidate vetting and checking can protect both your organisation and your customers. Using a third party to run these checks and verify their legitimacy on your behalf is affordable, secure and fast.

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