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#AceNewsDesk – A company by the name of Family Doctor had taken over Tristar Medical Group’s office earlier this year, after the company’s dramatic fall from grace.
Horsham retiree Alistair Cowie tried to get a pneumonia vaccine at the new doctors practice in town earlier this month.
Mr Cowie called the clinic’s regular number to make an appointment with the new GP.
But instead of an appointment, he received a rude shock.
An automated voice answered, redirecting him to a website called drasap.com.au.
There he was asked for his Medicare number and an $80 out-of-pocket payment to book a telehealth appointment with “one of our available doctors”.
Mr Cowie was unconvinced.
“This came across as a scam immediately to me,” he said.
“But I’m aware the possibility of people being scammed, if they’re not as familiar with the online world, is pretty high.”
Melbourne medical firm Family Doctor bought several clinics from the Tristar group during the company’s collapse, including centres in Horsham, Bendigo, Wodonga, Ballarat and the outer suburbs of Melbourne.
In a statement, Family Doctor’s managing director Dr Rodney Aziz said the clinics’ phone numbers were not transferred to him.
He said Tristar’s technology provider “claimed they owned these phone numbers”.
“This meant that we were forced to register new phone numbers for the clinics, including at Horsham,” Dr Aziz said.The former site of Tristar Medical Group Horsham, which has since been converted into a Family Doctor Clinic.(ABC Wimmera: Alexander Darling)none
Mr Cowie said he knew from memory what the old Tristar number was.
“So I called that and got this recording which says to log on to drasap.com.au and thought that was a bit strange,” he said.
“When I logged on, I was immediately disturbed with what I saw.
“There was no indication of who this company was, where they were based or a contact point.
“It certainly looked ripe for identity fraud.
“I think it would be very unlikely they would make an appointment on your behalf, and it was pretty upsetting to think there could be a lot of people in the Wimmera who could get scammed by this.”
Mr Cowie has since found the appointment he needed at Family Doctor.
Other clinic affected
Calling the old numbers for Tristar’s other former Victorian clinics also redirects people to drasap.com.au, except for the Deer Park, Eaglehawk and Kangaroo Flat clinics.
Dr Aziz said patients have informed Family Doctor “that despite paying $80 they never received a call or consultation, and I would urge these patients to report drasap.com.au to Consumer Affairs, ACCC and to AHPRA”.
“We have attempted to notify patients via direct SMS, signage at the clinics, and via Facebook,” he said.
“Unfortunately Google would not allow us to update our phone number as it requires a verification process via phone — which of course goes to the old number.”
Family Doctor told the ABC that Tristar’s former technology provider redirected the phone number to drasap.com.au, something the provider denies.
The provider told the ABC he had heard people had secured telehealth consultations through the drasap website.
Tristar’s administrators McGrath Nicol also told the ABC that the technology company was responsible for the redirection.
The ABC is not suggesting any wrongdoing on the behalf of the technology company.
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