EAGLEVILLE, PA – “People go to Yelp to find the best doctors – the best of the best. I was relieved to find what I thought was Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s profile, and that he had a practice right by me in Eagleville, PA. He put up a lot of very convincing pictures, pictures of him with patients, in the CNN newsroom, etc. I thought it was weird that he never wanted to Skype with me, but he had a lot of 5-star ratings.”
While most people associate “catfishing” with online dating, patient Beth Sterling found out the hard way that pretending to be a different person online is not limited to romantic relationships. When patient Beth Sterling went for a physical, she expected to be treated by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. To her surprise, she met a completely different doctor.
Allegedly, the doctor had posted several pictures of Dr. Gupta online, claiming to be the famous CNN medical correspondent. “This guy had 5-star ratings, so of course I’m expecting to see Dr. Sanjay Gupta. I got to the doctor’s office, and it was not Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Not even close. It was just some guy.”
The doctor, who is still choosing to remain anonymous, explained why he pretended to be a much better doctor than he actually is.
“I was bullied my whole life for being fat. Then I got bullied for being a mediocre doctor. So I created the Yelp profile to raise my self-esteem. But it got out of control. I was creating different profiles just to write fake patient reviews. Beth doesn’t want to see a guy like me. She wants a Dr. Oz, a Dr. Gupta – hell, even a Dr. Phil.”
The anonymous doctor has agreed to delete the fake profile, which contained what should have been a red flag for Sterling:
“I wish there was ZERO stars on this site. Went to this doctor last Feb he is not the guy on CNN. Dun be fooled he is huge and gross and was even l8 to c me. Not to mention the TINY cups in the water cooler. With all the money I’m spending on my co-pay, u can’t buy REAL CUPS?!?!?! Nvr been so pissed of!!!!!”
“I saw that review,” said Sterling. “But Yelp is notorious for trolls. Plus, someone rated that review as ‘funny,’ so I ignored it. If it had been rated as ‘useful,’ we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”
Sterling offered some closing remarks based on her experience. “I guess I’ve learned not to trust doctors. To be fair, I kind of catfished him, too: I told him I had Medicaid because I thought it would make me a more attractive patient. I actually have pretty crappy insurance.”