“American Medical Directory” scam alive and well

February 21, 2017

Contributed by: Stephanie Usher, BA, Dip PR | Website Coordinator, AMA Public Affairs

Are you among the Alberta physicians being bullied by the American Medical Directory, also known as AMMEDI.com or the UNITED Directorios LDA?

After agreeing to be added to what you thought was a free and legitimate medical directory, were you then sent invoices for thousands of dollars with threats of collections and legal action if not paid or settled in full?

You’re among good company. Over the past few years, the AMA has heard from many concerned physicians being hounded by this scam, based in Portugal. You may remember in early 2013, the AMA posted the article “Beware of surprise invoices from overseas medical directories” (source: CMA News & Announcements; CMA website). Unfortunately, this fraudulent company continues to do its best to swindle physicians worldwide. Who knows how much money has been unlawfully collected!

Always read the fine print

If you receive a letter from a directory offering to advertise you and/or your practice at no charge, be sure to read all of the fine print, even the sections that don’t appear to pertain to the directory. It’s in these seemingly inconsequential, often missed passages of the letter that the substantial payment requirements are hidden.

What to do when they come after you

If you did agree to a listing in the directory and you’ve started receiving payment demand letters (or faxes or emails), the advice remains the same as stated in the 2013 CMA article: Ignore, ignore, ignore; don’t pay anything; don’t waste your time responding in any way.

That advice to not pay anything is reiterated by both the Canadian Medical Protective Association and AMA’s legal counsel. The American Medical Directory has no legal recourse for collection.

“A demand letter has no force in law, except to the extent that it might be a pre-condition to commencing a lawsuit (i.e., if a debt is due on demand). It is usually followed up with a Statement of Claim, and even that does not result in money owing until a judgment is obtained,” says Jonathan Rossall, QC, LLM, Partner, McLennan Ross LLP. “Even if there were a contract where the physician is obligated to pay some money, it would be highly unlikely that a Portuguese company would actually come to Canada to sue. Getting a judgment in Portugal would be unlikely, as they would still have to personally serve the physician in Canada in order to proceed to judgment.” Plus, adds Mr. Rossall, “it sounds like this is a scam which could easily be exposed, were the fraudsters bold enough to actually try and take the matter to Court.”

Protect yourself: When not to “ignore”

In the unlikely event you are served with a Statement of Claim, don’t ignore it. Mr. Rossall says to “take it to a lawyer immediately and ensure that steps aren’t missed that might result in a default judgment (i.e., judgment in default of the defendant filing a defence to the claim).”

Information partially sourced from CMA News, “Beware of surprise invoices from overseas medical directories.”

 

The Alberta Medical Association stands as an advocate for its physician members, providing leadership & support for their role in the provision of quality health care.