Fake online therapist tricked hundreds of patients – BBC News

Image source, fake images

Screenshot, A real therapist’s wife impersonated her during online sessions

  • Author, Nadine Yousif
  • Role, BBC News

Authorities in Florida and Tennessee have charged a social worker with helping his wife impersonate her in online therapy sessions for nearly two years.

Peggy Randolph, who was licensed to provide therapy in both states through the Brightside Health platform, is alleged to have deliberately defrauded hundreds of patients.

Ms Randolph has denied the allegation, saying she was unaware that her wife, Tammy Heath-Randolph, who was unlicensed and untrained, had treated clients under her account.

The ruse was discovered after Ms Heath-Randolph died in February 2023.

Although Ms. Randolph denied knowing that her wife was treating patients on her behalf, authorities said the wife was receiving payment for the sessions she performed.

The therapist voluntarily revoked her license in August 2023 after an internal investigation by Brightside found she had shared her login credentials with her wife.

Ms. Randolph worked for Brightside Health from January 2021 to February 2023 and allegedly provided therapy to “hundreds of clients” during that time, Tennessee health officials said.

He is said to have carried out the deception in order to have time to see other patients in person.

In addition to losing her licence to practise, Ms Randolph was also ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 (£788).

Because Ms. Randolph voluntarily surrendered her license, the investigation against her was dropped and none of the authorities provided any further information about the nature of the evidence against Ms. Randolph or his now-deceased wife.

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The case recently became public after Florida and Tennessee released documents related to Randolph’s conduct in May.

Hannah Changi, a spokeswoman for Brightside, told CBS News that as soon as the company learned of the allegations, it fired Ms. Randolph and reported her to state licensing authorities.

It did not provide an exact figure on how many patients were affected “due to the nature of the incident and ongoing legal proceedings,” but said the company had reimbursed all affected patients.

“We are extremely disappointed that a single provider was willing to violate the trust that Brightside and, more importantly, its patients had placed in it,” Changi said in a statement.

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