Recently the skeptical cardiologist received a worrisome letter from the “American Board of Cardiology.”
The first page of the letter announced that I was in danger of losing my certification “in strict compliance with homeland security cooperation”
For a few seconds I was concerned. I value my Board Certification in Cardiology and consider this a marker of a good cardiologist, one who has completed appropriate training and testing. However, I knew that my board certification is provided by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).
It quickly became apparent that the American Board of Cardiology was a scam.
The ABC website consists of a single page, all in caps, with the name and address followed by bizarre mumbo-jumbo including a suggestion that the organization is engaged in humanitarian efforts.
THE AMERICAN BOARD OF CARDIOLOGY IN CONCERT WITH THE CONGREGATION OF RELIGIOUS MEDICAL MINISTRIES, THE WORLD CHRISTIAN CHILDREN’S CRUSADE AGAINST THE MURDER OF STREET CHILDREN IN LATIN AMERICA, THE WORLDWIDE MINISTRIES OF JESUS CHRIST, THE MOSQUE OF THE GOLDEN RULE, HAS RECENTLY ESTABLISHED A HOMELESS SHELTER FOR ABUSED WOMEN IN SOUTHERN NEVADA, A RECREATIONAL CENTER FOR TEENAGERS AND CHILDREN IN NORTH LAS VEGAS, AND WORK TO FOCUS THE CONSCIENCE OF THE WORLD ON THE MURDERING OF STREET CHILDREN IN HONDURAS AND OTHER LATIN COUNTRIES, AND WE BELIEVE THIS HUMANITARIAN, MEDICAL, RELIGIOUS APPROACH IS ALSO EXEMPLIFIED BY OUR DEVELOPING PLANS FOR HUMANITARIAN MEDICAL MISSIONS AND FREE CLINICS TO HELP THE POOR IN TABAC CITY IN THE BICOL REGION OF SOUTHEAST LUZON IN THE PHILIPPINES.
Keith Lasco, Master of Multiple Bogus Medical Certificate Scams
The only mention of this scam on the ABIM website is from 2009 and references a warning issued by the then Connecticut Attorney General ( and current US Senator), Richard Blumenthal
Blumenthal’s office has learned that an out-of-state individual known as Keith Alan Lasko – who also uses the names K. Lasko, Keith Ferrari, K. Ferrari, and KA James Windsor – has sold phony certifications to doctors in a variety of medical specialties in exchange for submitting only basic information and a substantial fee.
At least 130 more complaints have been reported, including at least one in Connecticut.
Lasko’s alleged scheme particularly targets foreign-born or foreign-taught doctors who may be unaware of the proper certification process.
Lisa Salberg, the Founder and CEO of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association, describes in detail in a 2014 post the various scams that Lasko has promulgated.
Salberg notes that the credentials obtained from this bogus operation look confusingly similar to real credentials. For example, for 300$ anyone can purchase a Master of the American Academy of Cardiology certificate and put the initials M.A.A.C. after their name.
There is no legitimate American Academy of Cardiology but non-physicians could easily confuse it with the American College of Cardiology which is the major professional organization for cardiologists.
Lasko has been named in multiple lawsuits such as this one from the American Board of Surgery.
The American Board of Surgery sued Lasko and his companies, the American Academy of Surgery and American Council of General Surgeons, and the American Council of Surgical Specialists, in Federal Court, for trademark violations and unfair and deceptive trade.
The Board claims Lasko set up both companies to trick physicians into believing they are affiliated with the American Board of Surgery, a legitimate group that “was founded in 1937 for the purpose of certifying surgeons who met a defined standard of education, training and knowledge.”
The ABS says Lasko has a long history of creating “medical organizations” to sell bogus certifications, and that he got into the business after losing his medical license.
Bill Roberts, the long time editor of the American Journal of Cardiology has described in detail another scam involving the bogus American Board of Cardiology:
In May 2014 I received the letter printed below with the caption American Board of Cardiology Committee on Honors and Awards, dated May 9, 2014, and signed by A.J. Alaa Windsor, MD. I was a bit surprised and transiently honored when I read the letter until I got to the second page which indicated that there were actually 3 engraved award plaques: one stated The American Board of Cardiology Award of Honor for 2014 ; another The Distinguished Master Laureate of the American Board of Cardiology , and the third one as Senior Consultant to the American Board of Cardiology . Under each of these was the option to order a number of plaques. Near the bottom of the second page was the following: “Please assist in the funding of this program of recommendation of excellence. Please enclose registration fee of $300 made to: American Board of Cardiology. Please enclose engraving and preparation fee of $70 for each 10″ × 8″ engraved plaque and $15 for shipping and handling of each plaque.”
Make Sure Your Cardiologist Has Real Credentials
It is very hard for patients to find good cardiologists. Such bogus certificates make it more difficult.
Make sure that the cardiologist you see is board certified in cardiology with the certification issued by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Seek out cardiologists who have the initials FACC after their name indicating they are fellows in the American College of Cardiology.
There may be additional initials following a good cardiologist’s name indicating membership or fellowship in other legitimate organizations.
If you see any of the above-referenced bogus organizations (American Board of Cardiology, American Academy of Cardiology, American Board of Surgery) after a doctor or cardiologist’s name be very suspicious. This physician is highly likely to be unethical.
Of course, Lasko changes the names of his bogus organizations and certificates as his scams are revealed so patients and physicians must perform due diligence on any other cardiology certification.