A 68-year-old San Francisco man pleaded guilty to 64 counts, including practicing medicine without a license, forgery, perjury and grand theft, for posing as a dermatologist for more than 20 years, according to SF Appeal.
Timothy Syed Andersson, known as "Dr. Syed," forged licenses and degrees and lied to patients, telling them that he worked at University of California San Francisco, while seeing them out of his home office. According to SFGate, Andersson tricked patients with brochures and a website that claimed he was a dermatologist to the stars, reinforced with a wall of photos showing him posing with celebrities like Julia Roberts and Elizabeth Hurley. The photos were later found to be digitally altered. Andersson also produced a signed affidavit that said he earned an M.D. in Sweden and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the United Kingdom -- a document that has resulted in a charge of perjury. Andersson was so convincing that he regularly appeared as a speaker at medical conferences, posing as an expert on skin problems.
After an extensive investigation, the DA's office found grisly reports from dozens of victims of Andersson's fraudulent practices. According to SF Weekly, Andersson routinely told patients they had cancer, and injected them with unknown substances for treatment. Victims included several children, including a two-year-old who suffered a severe allergic reaction that caused the child's fingernails to fall out. Andersson also treated patients for varicose veins by draining their blood via a syringe, but failed to follow up with a morrhuate sodium injection, as is typical with treatment.
"All of the victims reported that at the time of their treatment, they believed he was a medical doctor based on his misrepresentations," said Deputy District Attorney Brian Buckelew to SF Weekly. "He's just a fraud."
According to SF Appeal, Andersson also sold expensive creams that he falsely claimed were custom-created at UCSF and Stanford for patients. He also regularly sold a signature green tea and hydrocortisone facial cream for $125 per two-ounce jar. SFGate reported that, when asked what was in the cream, Attorney General Kamala Harris said, "a bunch of BS."
Harris, who was District Attorney at the time of the investigation, also said that Andersson was a con artist who took advantage of people in their "time of need."
Andersson's defense attorney, George Lazarus, requested a delay in the sentencing due to Andersson's health problems that include diabetes and a possible heart condition, but the judge rejected the motion, according to SF Appeal. Andersson now faces six years in prison, including a year that he has already served.