crime 20 People Who Conned People and Pretended to Be Doctors  

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The relationship between a doctor and his or her patient is a sacred trust, built on the understanding that one holds the well-being of the other in their hands. But what happens when a patient unknowingly sees a fake doctor? Sadly, it's all too easy to con trusting patients into thinking you're a physician, especially when dealing with someone sick, poor, or desperate.

The "physicians" on this list all abused the trust of their patients in some way, many through directly caring for people when they had no training, others by acting as a guru or expert. Some invented cures that didn't work, others directly killed people through their gross incompetence and negligence. Thankfully, all of them are off the street and have either been imprisoned, died, or renounced their fraudulent ways.

Here are the most blatant instances of quack doctors and doctor conmen pretending to be real. Read on to learn who they are, what they did, and what happened to them as a result of their fraudulent actions.

Leander Tomarkin


Swiss physician and chemist Leander Tomarkin gained worldwide fame for his development of Antimicrobum, a cure for pneumonia; as well as cures for typhus, tuberculosis, meningitis, and malaria. He was considered so brilliant that he became the personal physician to King Victor Emmanuel of Italy, and counted no less than Albert Einstein as a patron.

Except Tomarkin wasn’t a physician or chemist, invented nothing, and was skilled at nothing more than being a con artist. His fraud was uncovered in the late ‘30s, and he died some time later, trying to develop synthetic diamonds.
Frank Abagnale is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 20 People Who Conned People and Pretended to Be Doctors
Photo: Freebase

Made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2002 film, Catch Me if You Can, Frank Abagnale spent the better part of his youth as a con artist, pretending to be a pilot, federal agent, and a lawyer. Among his fake identities was a doctor named Frank Williams. He impersonated a chief resident pediatrician in a Georgia hospital for nearly a year, and only left when he realized the great burden he’d put on himself treating children with no training. Even when a baby nearly died under his “care,” nobody figured him out. Abagnale was eventually captured, and after a series of escape shenanigans, went legitimate as a security consultant.

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Age: 68

Birthplace: Bronxville, New York, United States of America

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Jean-Claude Romand is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 20 People Who Conned People and Pretended to Be Doctors
Photo: Courtesy/Migros Magazine

Romand lived the life of a healer, working for the World Health Organization, specializing in curing heart disease. Or at least that’s the life he pretended to lead. In the real world, Romand was a grifter who dropped out of medical school after a year, and just spent time hanging out at conferences, hobnobbing with real doctors. To support his nearly two decades of scamming, he ran a fake investment scheme, bilking thousands of dollars from unsuspecting victims.

Things got dark when, needing to pay back his mistress, he murdered his wife with a rolling pin, then shot his children in the head, shot his parents and their dog, then tried to kill the mistress, failed at that, tried to kill himself, failed at that, and was arrested and given life in prison.

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Age: 61

Birthplace: Lons-le-Saunier, France

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William Hamman


Even without medical fraud, William Hamman’s life would have been the stuff of legend – a seasoned commercial pilot Hamman was also an ace heart surgeon who spoke at conferences around the world. But the medical fraud puts it over the top, since Hamman had virtually no medical training, other than a few years at med school. He was able to keep the dual careers going for 15 years, teaching actual surgeons about patient safety and new techniques in surgery, until he was busted for not having any credentials when he applied for a grant.

Shockingly, the American Medical Association allowed Hamman to continue lecturing to doctors, but only if he made it clear he wasn’t a doctor. However, pressure from other (real) doctors forced him to stop.

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Age: 63