Fake doctor «treated» patients for five years

The final act of a story, which shocked the medical community, took place last week as the Harju county court gave Igor Smirnov (31) a five-year suspended prison sentence, yet he is free again since yesterday.

The final act of a story, which shocked the medical community, took place last week as the Harju county court gave Igor Smirnov (31) a five-year suspended prison sentence, yet he is free again since yesterday - postimees.ee.

«Doctor» Smirnov, who practiced in Tallinn, Pärnu and Kiviõli, was a jack-of-all-trades – from drawing blood from vein to psychiatric counseling and drafting a plan for the treatment of tumors. His pharmacy kit included pills against nausea caused by chemical treatment.

An unusually universal medic, as said Northern district prosecutor Silvia Kruusmaa. «A regular physician would refuse to treat all complaints and would direct the patient to other specialists,» she said.

Smirnov, who rented an apartment in the Järve district of Tallinn and received patients there is not entirely ignorant of medicine. The cum laude diploma of the University of Tartu medical faculty, which decorated his wall, was a forgery, yet the man has been trained as radiologist.

According to changed, he provided various medical services without a license and sold drugs in 2011-2016 to at least a dozen patients.

«Since he also took cash payments for his services, we cannot rule out that he had actually more clients than we could identify,» the prosecutor admitted.

A rare case

As to all patients, hundreds of individual crime episodes were identified, for which Smirnov received at least 37,000 euros.

He found his patients thanks to the word of mouth. Previous clients recommended him to acquaintances. For example, the fake doctor took care for an entire three-member family.

The «universal nature” of the fraudster was one of the reasons why patients remained loyal to him. They hoped that one man could relieve all their health problems. Smirnov managed to create an account at a real physician's mail address and received authority to take analyzes to a laboratory and to receive answers. He ordered his drugs from the Internet and also sold pharmacy products prescribed to himself.

Pille Ilves, the head of the Estonian Patient Advocacy Association, said that she had never before encountered such a case. «If someone is wearing a white coat, regular citizens already look up at them. Venerating medics has not disappeared anywhere. Physicians are trusted, especially if they are good communicators,» she said.

The case also concerned Lembi Aug, president of the Estonian Medical Association, who said that the association has been mainly concerned with more through checking of foreign medics' background. «We really did not expect a forgery of a University of Tartu diploma,» she said.

According to Aug, many people are susceptible to advertisements, recommendations over social media and to alternative medicine trends if these promise certain cure, which scientific medicine can never promise. «People often fear that their health records will become public and hope that private medicine can offer greater privacy,» she said.

Prosecutor Kruusmaa regretted that people were so careless about their health by trusting their treatment to someone whose real skills they knew nothing about. «On the other hand, Igor Smirnov had made through preparations starting from the forgery of university diploma and ending with the possession of various medical equipment, which must have increased the patients' trust,» she said.

The prosecutor pointed out that by checking the physician's code over the Internet, for example at the homepage of the Health Board, they could have easily found out that the person had no eight to treat patients.

According to the prosecutor's office, the fraudulent doctor's activity went unnoticed for five years until the man became bold enough to take a blood sample in a public cafe. A visitor who witnessed this called the police.

Expressed regret

Detectives of the Norther prefecture's criminal police searched last summer Smirnov's apartment and seized a large quantity of narcotic and psychotropic substances. The prosecutor wondered how the man was not discouraged by the criminal investigation and he continued his «treatment» even after having been interrogated by the police. Therefore he was arrested late last year.

Last week the Harju county court found Smirnov guilty in plea bargain and he received a five-year prison sentence, out of which had to spend six months in jail. The term expired yesterday and he was released on condition that he will not commit further crimes during the five-year probation period.

Smirnov was found guilty of providing medical services without license, identity theft, forgery of document and using the same, possession and sale of narcotic and psychotropic substances and influencing individuals to give false evidence.

The prosecutor was satisfied with the sentence. «We managed to confiscate more than 40,00 euros. If he should commit another crime during probation, he will be locked up for four and a half years,» Kruusmaa said.

Read other news on the city site of Tallinn.

Fakedoctor treatedpatients
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Chairman of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and one of the owners of construction group Nordecon, Toomas Luman, finds that a prime ministerial candidate should first and foremost be able to answer the question of what will become of the demographic crisis in Estonia. The businessman sees controlled introduction of foreign labor as the solution. A digital construction cluster was created in Estonia a few years back to bring innovation to the s...
Last year saw 27,125 registered offenses, up 0.5 percent from the year before. Violent crime was up by 12 percent to 8,249 offenses. PHOTO: Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire / Press Association Images / Scanpix Growth was biggest for domestic violence – the police launched criminal proceedings in 3,607 cases that constitutes an increase of more than one-third – annual growth of 37 percent from 2,632 cases in 2017. At the same time, reports of domestic violence we...
TALLINN - Ahead of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, tens of thousands of British citizens have chosen the citizenship of some other country, but only one Brit has recently chosen an Estonian citizenship. Spokespeople for the Ministry of the Interior told BNS that only one British citizen submitted an application for Estonian citizenship last year and the applicant was also granted the citizenship. Before that, no Brits had soug...
TALLINN - Experts from Finland, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands highlighted the importance of decentralization and granting local governments greater decision-making powers at a conference titled "Strong local government -- strong state?" in Tallinn on Wednesday.  All Nordic countries have chosen a model granting local governments significant decision-making powers, thus the central government does not prescribe how local governments are to fulfill the...
The language learning application Drops by game developer Planb Labs, established in Estonia by Hungarian founders, was named Google Play's best app of 2018. With the number of downloads surpassing 10 million, Drops was named Google's app of the year as the revenue of Planb Labs, a company registered in Estonia, increased fivefold, CNBC said. The developer's revenue grew from €335,000 in 2017 to €1.7 million in 2018. The company's shareholders include Hung...
TALLINN - The Estonian Health Board has banned the distribution of chlorine dioxide, also marketed as the Miracle Mineral Supplement (MMS), the A-component of an unused product, meaning the sodium chlorite solution, must be taken to a hazardous waste collection facility. Ester Opik, head of the Health Board's North regional department, said that the banning of the distribution of the product was caused by the fact that MMS, distributed as a cosmetics produ...
Nature cannot abide a vacancy, as the saying goes. If just one year ago, Estonia was battling the sale of MMS and the practice of giving it to children, a new “miracle cure” called Advanced TRS has appeared on the market now. Even though the make-up of the substance is different, the promise to cure autism and cleanse the body of heavy metals, which kind of extreme detox is accompanied by severe side-effects, sounds all too familiar. TRS is recommended to...
Allied NATO battalions will soon mark two years serving in the Baltics. They have worked better than expected but would need prepositioned heavy weaponry and a functional contingency plan in case of a crisis, a report by the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) finds. “We do not know how Russia would have acted had we not welcomed allies in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in 2017. I’m afraid they would have tested our resolve,” one of...
The time of filing income tax returns is nearly upon us. The new income tax system, in effect since last year, will obligate many women who went on maternity leave toward the end of the year to make additional income tax payments, while those who give birth in the middle or at the beginning of the year have no such obligation. What this means is that some women will owe the state simply for giving birth “at the wrong time”. Laura Roop, who went on maternit...
Related news