Greek man fined for posing as medical practitioner in Victoria

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A fake doctor has been caught pretending to be a geriatric specialist preying on vulnerable people at an aquatic centre in suburban Melbourne.

The national health regulator swooped on Panayiotis Marlassi-Bouras, 57, after two of his victims came forward.

The fraudster had approached them when attending swimming classes at Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre in January and February last year.

He handed them both a business card, which detailed he was a medical practitioner and aged care specialist at a facility called The Aged Care Clinic.

One of his victims was a brain tumour survivor who he told to stop taking her epilepsy medication “because she no longer needed it”.

He befriended her at the swimming lessons, telling her: “I am a doctor and (the instructor) is one of my patients.”

They then met outside the classes, where he told her that he was “a great doctor” and worked at a Melbourne hospital.

Exploiting her vulnerability, he later offered to help her get her driver’s licence, and set up a better mobile plan and bank accounts, asking her to hand over her passport and credit card details.

Going by Dr Marlassi-Bouras, he also targeted the swimming instructor, asking him about his knee injury after noticing he had a knee brace.

He told the man that he would provide him with a knee brace from his clinic. When he later delivered the brace, he looked at X-rays of the man’s knee.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency sent Marlassi-Bouras a cease and desist letter in March.

In an email, he told AHPRA his female victim was “mentally unstable” and fabricating her claims.

“I have never provided (her) with medical advice,” he said.

“Under no circumstances I have ever held myself or claimed to be a medical practitioner in Australia.”

He admitted he provided a business card, but said it was “by mistake” that he gave one that was meant for United Kingdom use only.

Marlassi-Bouras also acknowledged his email signature states he is a medical practitioner “since this is a term widely used in the UK and in the practice of my consultancy.”

An AHPRA investigation uncovered Marlassi-Bouras was not registered with the General Medical Council, the registration body for practitioners in the UK.

They charged him in October with six offences, including knowingly and recklessly holding himself out as being a registered health practitioner and falsely using the protected title of medical practitioner.

But he has since gone to ground and was a no-show at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday, with AHPRA successfully applying to have the case heard in his absence.

Magistrate Michael King said for someone without any medical expertise to tell a woman to stop prescribed epilepsy medication was “inherently dangerous”.

“This was reckless in the extreme,” Mr King said.

“It showed a callous disregard for the complainant.”

He said the public should be able to rely on the integrity of the medical profession.

Mr King fined Marlassi-Bouras $10,000 and ordered he pay AHPRA’s legal costs.

He had dodged tough new laws introduced on July 1 where his crimes would have faced increased penalties and a prison term of up to three years.

AHPRA said this case “demonstrates our determination as a regulator to protect the Australian community from such unlawful and deceptive behaviour”.

“Patients put their trust in properly qualified and registered practitioners, and it is a gross violation of that trust when someone falsely claims to be registered,” the regulator said.

Anyone with concerns about a practitioner can report it to 1300 419 495.

Sourced via Herald Sun.

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