CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Dr. Carlos Wolf is one of the most well-known plastic surgeons in South Florida, practicing in Miami for more than 30 years. But recently he said someone has been trying to use his reputation against him.
"The internet is a wonderful place but you have a lot of fakes," Wolf said.
Jessica Levi is director of marketing for Wolf's practice, Miami Plastic Surgery. She said after more than one patient complained of interacting with someone they thought was Wolf on social media, she did some research and found several accounts pretending to be the doctor.
"We had somebody call recently. They were pretty upset that they had been speaking to who they thought was Dr. Wolf, and it was not, so I took it upon myself to investigate this further," Levi said.
One page used a photo of Wolf and even lifted pictures from his real Instagram account.
"Actually, right after I added them, they messaged me. So I think that goes to show how aggressive these type of predators can be," Levi said.
She said in a series of messages the person behind the account claimed to be based in Miami and encouraged her when she mentioned interest in changing her nose through a rhinoplasty procedure.
"He was quick to assure me that the procedure would be painless, and it was not a big deal, and that I, quote, 'would not feel an itch,'" Levi said.
Next, she said the person asked her to register by filling out personal medical information and paying a $2,500 consultation fee through email. The person claimed, "You've gotten to me personally … so your consult is fixed when fee is paid."
"He went as far as to have a Gmail account under Dr. Wolf's name, as well, with a form to fill out and a bank account number, a routing number and all that type of information," she said.
Coral Gables police are now investigating, but they said this is really uncharted territory for them.
"They're trying to perpetrate fraud. So we will investigate it," said Officer Kelly Denham, of the Coral Gables Police Department.
Denham said investigators are working to track down that bank information, but they want the public to be alert.
"By using the doctor's good name, his good reputation in his business, this became a problem for the doctor, but now it's also wanting to see if there's any victims that's partaking in this," Denham said.
Wolf said he would never charge that amount for a consultation. His office reached out to Instagram for weeks about the phony account, which the company finally pulled down.
"The biggest concern is when you have fakes on the internet, you have people that do trust them, have surgery, possibly," Wolf said. "There are a lot of people that actually just trust people."
At the very least, Levi believes, it would have cost a potential patient thousands of dollars.
"The cosmetic industry on social media is a scary place. And I think that potential patients need to beware of these things," she said.