Fraud and Deception During Residency Application: A Med Student's Worst Nightmare

Ryan Syrek, MA

Disclosures

March 28, 2019

Medscape: So while you were figuring out what comes next in terms of residency, there were now legal concerns.

Ahmad: Correct. I first went to my local police station back in Texas in March of 2016.

Medscape: You contacted the criminal authorities while also sorting things out with the NRMP?

Crapanzano: Yes. We called the NRMP, and they said that because the perpetrator was someone outside of the Match, it was consequently not grounds for invalidation. So we filed an appeal. We wrote all these letters and explained the whole thing. Whoever this was, he had taken away the ability for Billy to practice in his chosen profession. Thankfully, after we appealed, the NRMP did invalidate the Match, and he was able to start in our program.

Medscape: With that part solved, you switched to trying to track down the perpetrator?

Crapanzano: Billy asked me if I would please email the top five programs that he had put on his rank list, to see whether this had happened anywhere else, because it might help him narrow down who to consider as a target. Another program did receive the same email. The police got the IP address related to the two times this fake email account had been used. One was at a hospital, at a computer terminal where someone had to log in under their own name. The second login was from that person's home address. So we knew who the person was. Billy and I were going to have to go testify, but at the last minute, a plea deal was reached.

Ahmad: It was almost the perfect crime, in the sense that I got lucky that my girlfriend happened to be a member of the program that was my top choice. Had she not been in the program, I don't think anybody would have ever known known what happened.

Medscape: Do you have any sense why this person would do this to you?

Ahmad: It's really, really tough to speculate on motive. I can tell you the guy had a history in applying to the same program, and ultimately he didn't match there. He would have wanted to possibly be at that program. That's all that I can really speculate. It's tough to say.

The individual who is responsible was somebody I had known my entire life, since I was 4 years old. He was already in another program. He was already a resident at the time that he committed the crime.

Medscape: How long did the criminal prosecution take?

Ahmad: By the time that the legal process concluded, the individual responsible actually pleaded guilty to both felony and misdemeanor charges. It was May 2018. It was over 2 years from start to finish. The felony charge was securing execution of a document by deception greater than $150,000, and the misdemeanor was a Class A misdemeanor, which is the highest level of misdemeanor in Texas, and that was for online impersonation.

Medscape: In researching for the piece you wrote, did you come across any other instances of something like this?

Crapanzano: No, I have not. I asked the NRMP, and they had never had anything like this reported. When I talk to applicants, it does strike terror in their hearts to think that someone could sabotage this, when they've worked so hard. I don't have a sense that this is going to turn into a widespread problem.

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