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A man who pretended to be a medical specialist with a ‘miracle cure’ conned parents of dying boys and a 76-year-old patient.
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Police on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean are working with their colleagues in Greece to find up to 45 patients who were treated by an unscrupulous bogus doctor who fleeced them of thousands of euros and gave them fake “miracle” cures.
Among his victims were the families of two terminally ill teenaged boys, aged 14 and 16. Both died of cancer despite the “doctor” giving them his alternative remedy comprising vitamins, organic herbs and cannabis.
Police said the father of one of the boys confirmed that he had paid around 15,000 euros (R288,000) for his son’s treatment. It is not known what the parents of the other boy paid.
Additional amounts paid by other patients included 58,000 euros (R1,1-million) from a 76-year-old man, and 30,000 euros (R576,000 ) paid by another patient whose details were not disclosed.
At this stage it is not known how much money the doctor scammed from his patients. Indeed, this may never be known unless all the “patients” in Greece and Cyprus can be traced. But the Cyprus-based English-language newspaper The National Herald said it was estimated to be “scores of thousands of euros”.
The arrested conman has been identified by Greek police as 47-year-old Nikos Kontothanasis, who called himself Nikos Kontos. Normally people accused of crimes in Greece are not named, but his details have been released in this instance in the hope that other victims will come forward.
He posed variously as a US-educated paediatric oncologist, a surgical neuro-physiologist, an executive member of the International Red Cross, and as a researcher at a renowned medical centre in Switzerland.
The London-based Guardian newspaper said various media outlets reported that he also presented himself as a physiotherapist and a doctor with links to the Vatican.
Apparently his victims were found through relatives seeking comfort and support in local monasteries, and also at the large number of monasteries found in and around Mount Athos.
The latter area has around 20 monasteries and is an important centre of Eastern Orthodox monasticism.
Kontothansis may be a serial conman. According to The National Herald he is also being investigated in connection with a 2005 business scam worth around 50 million euros, in which he allegedly posed as a representative of a secret US government agency looking for brokers to sell telecoms equipment to countries such as China and North Macedonia.
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