Records: Fraud exceeded $150,000 in Collier bill collection scheme

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Blanchi Dugatkin

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Blanchi Dugatkin

— The recent arrest of a Las Vegas woman is tied to a 2010 Collier County bill collection fraud case and allegations of theft and fraud totaling more than $150,000, court and sheriff’s records show.

Blanchi Dugatkin, 55, was arrested in Nevada in early February before turning herself in to Collier deputies Friday to face four felony charges stemming from the investigation into a year-long scheme.

Dugatkin, of Las Vegas and Palm Beach County, is accused of presenting herself to Anesthesia Associates of Naples as an attorney who could collect bad debt on the company’s behalf, according a Collier County Sheriff’s Office report.

For those services in 2010, she was paid approximately $180,000 by the medical company.

A slew of small claims court cases filed by Dugatkin drew the attention of a Collier judge and led to a state probe into her background. In 2012, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Dugatkin practiced law without a license and fined her $10,500 for the infraction.

“If someone presents themselves as a doctor, do you actually check if they went to medical school?” said Maurice Madore, vice president of practice management at Anesthesia Business Consultants, the original complainant to economic crimes investigators in Collier County.

A Sheriff’s Office report lists about 100 possible victims of the bill collection scheme.

A Collier judge already dismissed about 150 of the small claims cases, which needed to be filed by an attorney in good standing.

Madore declined to comment on how the anesthesia company handled the issue with its patients, citing patient confidentially laws.

Dugatkin was released on $32,500 bond following her Friday arrest and is expected in court for arraignment on March 11.

Attempts to reach her for comment by phone and social media were unsuccesful, and no attorney is listed for her yet in Collier court documents.

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