If you're new to Miami and, like Riptide, are tempted to choose a dentist through the Yellow Pages, know this: South Florida is especially dodgy when it comes to fake doctors. The state health department's Unlicensed Activity Unit is dedicated solely to busting phony medical professionals and is the only of its kind in the nation. In Miami-Dade, "doctors" range from tummy tuckers to cavity drillers.
This past year, it was all about the ladies. From January to December 2009, according to state records, authorities arrested ten people countywide. All of them were female. Cases included a doctor, a dentist, and a slew of unlicensed massage therapists.
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The same week, authorities collared eight massage therapists, including Liliana Lopez, Marisa Lama, Diana Tomas. Three months later, cops arrested a Coral Gables-based quack named Sandra Martinez for injecting her clients with anti-aging formulas derived from plant extracts. Her boyfriend was arrested for drug possession the same day.
State health officials say massage therapy was the fastest-growing unlicensed trade in 2009. The Unlicensed Activity Unit spends about $1.2 million per year.