Most Wanted Monday: The Allegedly Insurance-Scamming Weight-Loss Doctor with the World’s Worst Radio Commercials

Crime
A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
May 20 2013 5:00 PM

Most Wanted Monday: The Allegedly Insurance-Scamming Weight-Loss Doctor with the World’s Worst Radio Commercials

Dr. Gautam Gupta
Dr. Gautam Gupta

Federal Bureau of Investigation

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Wanted for: Mail fraud, health care fraud, conspiracy

Added to the FBI’s White Collar Criminals list: 2011

The circumstances: If you’ve lived in Chicago over the past 10 years, chances are you’re familiar with Dr. Gautam Gupta. For the better part of a decade, the good doctor flooded Chicago’s radio waves with smarmy commercials touting his weight loss clinics, encouraging listeners to “call Dr. Gautam Gupta” and enlist medical science in their weight loss efforts. I could find no trace of these commercials anywhere on the Internet, but they weren’t very different from the ad copy on his website, which promotes Dr. Gupta as a caring, empathetic, incredibly skilled doctor who would devise an individualized program that will put you on “the PERMANENT Road to Success.” But as it turns out, it seems the only thing Gupta was doctoring … was the books!

In 2011 federal charges were filed against Gupta, alleging that he filed $25 million worth of dishonest insurance claims to Blue Cross/Blue Shield, for procedures that he had either not performed at all or were entirely unnecessary. Moreover, former patients alleged that Gupta’s clinics were little more than pill factories, with unqualified staffers dispensing appetite suppressants before running tests to determine whether the pills were advisable or necessary. Gupta skipped town before the authorities could nab him—allegedly leaving his wife and children behind in Rockford, Ill.—and hasn’t been seen since. His horrible commercials, however, remain wedged into Chicagoans’ brains.

His likely whereabouts: Authorities think Gupta may have fled back to India, his country of origin. However, the FBI’s wanted poster helpfully notes that Gupta “has known ties to the following areas: Los Angeles, California; London, England; Mumbai, India; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Canada; Estonia; and Finland.” I’ll lay 75-to-1 odds on Finland.

Prospects of catching him: He’s got a lot of money, so he’s got the means to hide, if he wants. But every grifter finds it hard to abandon a successful scam. If the FBI really wants to get a line on Gupta, I would recommend monitoring the Indian radio waves, just in case they hear any ads touting the weight loss services of one “Dr. Rautam Rupta.”

Most Wanted Score: Gupta is on the FBI’s White Collar Criminals list, so his alleged crimes will never measure up to those committed by the hardcore violent offenders on the bureau’s other lists. But preying on people’s body image insecurities to sell them unnecessary pills and procedures is pretty scummy. Plus, his radio ads were seriously the worst. 7 out of 10 for Dr. Gautam Gupta.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.

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