The *Angriest* Pharmacist You want your prescription filled when? Eat shit…

Busting a fraudulent script

Posted on November 5, 2008

Every pharmacist has been in a situation before where they have considered calling the police on a person trying to pass off a fraudulent prescription. Some pharmacists pass the buck and merely give it back to the patient rather than deal with it. Others are pretty gung-ho and do their best to see the person into the waiting arms of the authorities. I kinda go back and forth. It's a case by case basis.

I recently got an email from someone giving out tips on how to ensure pharmacists have the best chance of busting the scam-artist. It all makes complete sense, but it may not be things that we would think of in the spur of the moment.

I've reposted the "scenarios" below with the permission of the author, but I have edited them somewhat to make them more clear/applicable. My thanks go out to the author -- Michelle.


Suggestion 1: Someone brings in a fake prescription. After they leave, you call the doctor and verify that this is a fake prescription. The office confirms that it is fraudulent, altered, or illegal for whatever reason and instruct you to not fill it and have the person arrested. So, you call the police, and they tell you to notify them when the person arrives and stall the scammer when they come in to pick it up. You wait until they show up. Here's a tip: tell your employees that when the customer walks into the store and announces their name, NOT TO STARE AT HIM LIKE HE HAS THE PLAGUE!! Your behavior gives you, and your intentions, away. Scammers will pick up on this -- noticing the attention and bolt.

Suggestion 2: The patient will call you to see if their prescription is ready. All fake scripts will be called on by the scammer first to "test the waters" depending on your (or your tech's) response here dictates whether they ever come in. DO NOT ASK "What exact time will you be here?"  RED FLAG. Under normal circumstances, you wouldn't care what exact time it was picked it up. If you ask, the person will know that the police will be there to meet them, and he/she won't show up. This will remove the gratification you so desperately need to see the person leave your pharmacy in handcuffs.

Suggestion 3: Don't tell them over the phone that they shouldn't use the drive-thru. Scammers know it is easier for you to arrest them in the store, so when you tell them"Uhhhh, just come in the store, something is wrong with our drive-thru," or "We need you to come in the store to sign something," they will know you are lying, and they won't show up. Another thing about this that will backfire is when they do show up and the supposedly broke drive-thru is full of customers.

Suggestion 4: For the purpose of this suggestion, we'll call our prescription forger Sally Smith." If you work in a big chain, you have lots of customers. They know this -- that's why they frequent the busiest stores. You cannot possibly know all your patients by name immediately. So, let says Sally Smith walks into your Walgreens at 11:00am with a fake prescription for Xanax. She gives it to you and leaves. You call and verify that it is indeed a fake prescription. You alert all of your employees that when Sally Smith comes back in they are to call the police. You and your employees anxiously await Sallys arrival. Did Sally show up yet? Watch for Sally to some in! Well, Sally has been at this for awhile and before showing up, she decides to call you and see how you react on the phone, most often zealous pharmacists give themselves away when trying to get someone arrested. Its 3:00pm. Sally calls Hello, my name is Sally Smith. Is my Xanax prescription ready yet? If the pharmacist immediately responds with Um, YES! It is ready She immediately knows the jig is up because you knew who she was without checking the Will-Call-Bin or the computer system. What you should say is, Sally who? What's your birthday? Okay. Hold on. Let me check.....When did you drop it off? Oh, yes, Sally, yea thats ready for you. This is much more believable. If they sense anything, they just won't come in -- they can just forge another one and drop it off somewhere else.

Suggestion 5: Someone comes in with a prescription that you suspect is xeroxed. Medicare/Medicaid is slowly rolling out measures to counteract forging of prescriptions like watermarks, heat sensitive ink, and separate pads for controlled drugs. Anyway, you think its copied/altered. The customer gives you or your technician the prescription and leaves the counter but walks around the store pretending to be shopping. If you, as the pharmacist, are going to hold the prescription up in the air under a light like its evidence from a murder scene to see if it is copied, here is a tip, go somewhere where the customer cannot see you do this! They will be watching/waiting. If they see this followed by you grabbing the phone in an adulterous rage, they are going to bolt. In addition, go somewhere out of the pharmacy and call on the Rx. The patient might hear their name or see you say their name and assume you are going to find out it's fraudulent...and bolt.

Suggestion 6: If someone comes in late at night to fill a controlled substance, right before closing time, there is a reason. They know you cannot contact the doctor at that hour and you just want to go home so some pharmacists will just fill the prescription as is. Some pharmacists may decide to not fill it until they can call tomorrow and verify it. Just tell them that rather than give them the drugs or lie to them. And definitely don't blatantly lie to them by saying something like, "The pharmacist-in-charge already left for the night and took the narcotic key with them. I can't fill anything until she gets back tomorrow morning at 9am. You can come back then." These types of people have usually worked in a pharmacy or are very familiar with pharmacy workflow due to the frequency of their pharmacy visits. They will know that every pharmacist has access to the narcotic cabinet and just because one pharmacist leaves does not mean that narcotics cannot be filled -- how retarded does that sound? Turning away all prescriptions...yeah right! Assuming they are ignorant of the ins and outs of pharmacy is wrong, and it will keep you from catching them and seeing them punished for their crime(s).


The readers of this post are going to have varying degrees of opinions on this matter. We can all agree that is illegal, and we discourage it. Where we will have differing opinions is on what is done after the prescription has been determined as fraudulent.
1. Some will always call the cops.
2. Some will just tear the script up and tell the patient they know it was fake and tell them to not come back to their store (and make notes in the computer on the patient's profile).
3. Some will just write fake on it in sharpie and give it back to the patient when they come in.
4. Some will leave the script alone and tell the patient they don't have the drug and will give the script back to them.
5. Some will call the cops and have them come pick up the fake rx and make no attempt to have the person arrested in their store.
6. Some just fax the Rx to every pharmacy/doctor in their area and then give it back to the person and see what happens when they try and go to the pharmacy down the street.

None of them are wrong, necessarily. I am a big fan of Number 6. It's really quite humorous to hear the stories from fellow pharmacists when the person continues to peddle a forged Rx to every pharmacy in town, and they ALL know it's fake in advance.

Some employers refuse to allow their pharmacists to call the authorities or have an arrest made within the store -- as it might scar the store's reputation or bother the other customers/patients. I think this is a punk ass cop out. But, in this case, pharmacists are restricted to numbers 2, 3, 4, and/or 6.

So, what's the right way to handle the situation? What do you do? What have you done in the past? I realize that stories are sometimes pertinent to show what you have done in the past, but try and keep them short and to the point.


Read the Fraudulent Prescription Writing Guidebook at:
If we know the rules and tricks they pull, we can counter them.