Fake Virgin Islands Hospital set up to lure online victims
Published: January 18, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - Virgin Islanders know that no United States Virgin Islands Hospital is located in the territory, but the rest of the world could be duped by the fake hospital's website.
The V.I. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs has reported the sham website to the federal government, and it warned the public to stay away from the site.
In a statement released Thursday, DLCA confirmed that the website - www.unitedstatesvirginislandshospital.com - and all information included on the site are indeed fraudulent.
"There is no United States Virgin Islands Hospital in existence on St. Thomas," DLCA Commissioner Wayne Biggs Jr. said.
The website's home page has a photo of a hospital - which is not Schneider Hospital, the only hospital on St. Thomas - and says the hospital's location is at the corner of Smith Bay and Shirley Street.
It lists the address as "6226 Estate Smith Bay, Ste 235; St. Thomas, VI 00802" and provides a Google map image of the location. However, no such address exists, no such structure exists, and no such hospital is licensed with DLCA, Biggs said.
According to Google Images, the photo is of a hospital in West Reading, Pa., and much of the text on the website is taken from the website of Doctors Hospital in Nassau, Bahamas. The fake hospital website also a photo of staff members from the website of Runnells Specialized Hospital in Union County, N.J.
The fake hospital website has several tabs including "about us," "services," "accreditation," "contact us," and "employment opportunities."
The "about us" tab has a detailed - and completely fictional - history of the hospital. It says it was founded by Dr. Stephen Bay in 1955 and was bought in 1986 by a group of missionary physicians. It says the fake hospital completed a $8.5 million, 50,000-square-foot expansion in 1993 and became a publicly traded company in 1999.
Under the "accreditation" tab, it says the hospital is accredited by the "Joint Caribbean Commission International the global leader in accrediting health care organizations."
No such organization exists.
The site also highlights employment opportunities available through the hospital with a program called "project5." This program claims to "provide health care assistance to the unprivileged families in the Slum areas of South and East Africa and in the world."
Photos and copy on the website have been taken from legitimate hospitals' websites and cobbled together to look real.
While it is not clear exactly what the scam is, the website encourages people to submit their resumes to a man named Bill Martin.
DLCA officials said that could be a way of "phishing" for personal information to be used for identity theft or to steal money from unsuspecting victims.
"The originators of these and other scams try to make the scheme sound legitimate by adding a story line behind it. They will go to every extent to sell the story and convince potential victims that it is legitimate," Biggs said. "Through the submission of something as basic as a resume, they can access your personal information. People are generally careful with releasing their Social Security number, credit card numbers, or bank information but may not be as protective with their name, age, and address."
Biggs said DLCA has reviewed the website in its entirety and confirms that everything regarding the United States Virgin Islands Hospital is a scam.
As a result of this scam being presented through the Internet, DLCA's Consumer Protection Services Division has reported the website and scam to the National Fraud Information Center. The official report flags the website and it will be logged into the National Law Enforcement Database operated by the Federal Trade Commission. That database is used extensively by the FBI, FTC, Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney Offices, state and local consumer protection offices which bring criminals to justice, Biggs said.
DLCA also reached out to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center to advise them of the website and its fraudulent claims. Additional agencies alerted by DLCA on the matter include the National Consumer League and the Federal Communications Commission.
Biggs said complaints about any kind of scam can be reported to the DLCA at 774-3130 on St. Thomas or 773-2226 on St. Croix.
- Contact Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email email@example.com.