Prosperident Pulse #102 January 2021

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Newsletter January 2021
Hello, 2021! Full Steam Ahead
Like so many others, the dental community has endured a nearly year-long stress test. For the most part, dentistry's adaptability to change has been the foundation for its success in recovering from this unprecedented year. Although none of us wants to dwell on the year that was 2020, it did present us with an education and a few "silver linings" as we faced global societal changes and internal cracks, highlighted by the unusual circumstances that characterized the year.
The internal and external trials of 2020 set us at Prosperident on the path of an internal review. Our current policies, products, and services were all put under the microscope to ensure that we kept pace with the changes around us. We have always been committed to remaining a valuable and contributing entity in the dental community. To this end, my team and I have been working with valued clients and outside consultants to ensure that now and in the future, inclusion, diversity, and respect for each other remain a part of our mandate.
2021 will not be like 2020, thank goodness, nor will it be like 2019. The "exercise" of 2020 has delivered to us the remarkable gift of being grateful for change, no matter how difficult. Who we were, who we are, and whom we want to be will create a shift in how we all do business forever. Prosperident is not just a collection of experienced investigators, IT experts, and talented support staff. We are and have for over 30 years been all of those things and more. We are the total of all the energy, experience, and expertise that our team member brings to each investigation and service that we produce or perform. This you can rely on!
2021 will mark the beginning of fresh starts in many areas for both you and us. In January, Prosperident will launch a quarterly themed webinar series. The theme for winter 2021 is "Designing Your Post Covid Practice," and it reflects our commitment to no-cost education and CE's for all dentists, dental specialists, and dental practice owners. We have streamlined the registration process and concentrated on presenting topics meant to inform and educate you as you continue to reach your goal of having your most prosperous business year ever!
If there is a silver lining to the events of 2020, Covid has created a wave of thoughtfulness and caring for each other that, while always a hallmark of the dental profession and Prosperident, seems more genuine and authentic now. This is the one gift offered by the past year's events that my team and I will hold close.
Please join Prosperident as we invite all of you to put 2020 in the rearview mirror and as we all forge ahead, both stronger and more connected than ever.
Happy New Year!
blank David Harris
Designing Your Post Covid Practice
Join us for our Winter 2021 webinar series. For information and registration please click HERE.
We are looking forward to "seeing" you on January 21!
Prosperident Inc. 888-398-2327

Prosperident Pulse #101 December 2020

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Newsletter December 2020
Season’s Greetings!
The Holiday Season is upon us, and without a doubt, there will be a departure from all that we consider “normal” about our celebrations this year.
Like many of you, I’ve been feeling a little bit overwhelmed during the Coronavirus pandemic. Although my team and I were able to work, we certainly feel the pain and uncertainty that the pandemic has caused, particularly for our friends in the dental community.
I recently asked my team how Prosperident could best help you while you continue to face this unprecedented time of stress and uncertainty, especially going into this Holiday Season. The conversation that followed was inspiring, hopeful, and optimistic in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. Yay, team!
In the upcoming months, I will be putting several of my team’s progressive and innovative ideas into action. We are excited to evolve, and we sincerely want to continue to be a valued part of your community. Please know that we are here for you, and we will be making every effort to be available to you in every way we can to help you with your businesses as we celebrate the holidays and move forward into a brand new year.
The entire team at Prosperident wishes you and those you love a peaceful, joyous, and most of all, a safe and healthy holiday season.

David Harris
Prosperident Inc. 888-398-2327

Prosperident webinar November 22 2020; Healing After Stealing

Your hosts Amber Weber, David Harris and Wendy Askins welcome special guest presenter Dr. Len Tau, who will discuss reputation management for dentists.

If you prefer to receive content in podcast format, Prosperident’s The Dental Practice Owner’s Podcast is now available on Spotify, TuneIn and iHeart Radio and other podcast outlets. You can subscribe using one of the buttons below.

Prosperident Pulse #100 November 2020

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November 2020
Next Webinar November 19!
We were pretty brave last month. We went head to head with the Presidential Debate — and we won. We had record registration.
In November, there will be no such distraction; the election will be a fading memory for most of us, and there are barely any sports on TV.
You have to like the title for November – Healing After Stealing. We will be talking about the effects of embezzlement on victims, staff, and their families.
The webinar takes place Thursday, November 19, at 8:00 pm Eastern / 5:00 pm Pacific.
To register, click HERE.
If you want to catch up on our previous webinars, including October’s The Million Dollar Club, Meet Embezzlement’s Elite, you can access them at THIS LINK.
PACE CE credit is available.
We look forward to having you back in our audience!
Happy Halloween from Prosperident
Most of you know Amber Weber as one of our Senior Fraud Examiners and as an on-camera host of our webinar series. But it doesn’t stop there — Amber has lots of other talents.
Here is Amber giving a Halloween Greeting (and some wisdom about hiring) in a Halloween Rap.
Click HERE to play the video.
Did you miss a previous newsletter? We archive them HERE.
Big News!
Our Embezzlement Risk Assessment Questionnaire has just received a major overhaul.
Our research into the causes and correlates of embezzlement never ceases, and we have just incorporated the results of that research into the new version of the Questionnaire.
The basic elements are still there; the Questionnaire consists of 37 yes/no completed online questions and takes less than 15 minutes. When someone takes it, they receive an overall score (we’ve simplified that a bit too) and an emailed report with details on a lot of the answers they provided and some recommendations based on their score.
The Questionnaire normally costs $139, but until November 30, we are offering it to practice owners at no cost.
What is the Most Secure Practice Management Software?
We are featuring excerpts from the upcoming second edition of David Harris’ book, Dental Embezzlement; the Art of Theft and the Science of Control.
A frequently asked question by doctors regarding practice management software is whether there is a brand of practice management software that is better at protecting a doctor against embezzlement.
This is like asking if one hammer is safer to use than another. All hammers have the potential to be safe if used properly and the potential to cause grievous harm if they are not.
Let’s start by looking at your software in a way that is slightly different than what you are accustomed to.
Something to Talk About…
As we move past Halloween and the Christmas season rushes headlong toward us, many people pause for a nanosecond or two in November to give thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed on them.
With the second wave of Covid arriving, a politically polarized population, racial tensions, and many other issues in the world, negativity is not in short supply these days. However, it wasn’t hard for me to come up with a lot of positives:
1. I’m thankful that my family is healthy and safe.
2. I am blessed to have the chance to work with smart, talented people who are also fantastic human beings (although some should not quit their day jobs — see the column to the left).
3. I’m thankful that, through the challenges of Covid, dentists have found a way to deliver the care that their patients need safely.
4. I’m really thankful that my giant son is ensconsed in residence at college and that feeding him is now someone else’s problem. The meal plan really is a bargain for him.
5. Most of all, my team is humbled by the partnership we have formed with the dental profession as we guide its members through particularly stressful periods in their lives.
Thank you for the trust you have placed in us!
David Harris
We are Prosperident, Dentistry’s Embezzlement Experts
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How Secure is my Practice Management Software?

Editor’s note — this article is an extract from the upcoming second edition of David Harris’ book Dental Embezzlement; The Art of Theft and the Science of Control, expected to be available in 2021.

A couple of the most frequently asked questions by doctors regarding practice management software are:

  • Is there a brand of practice management software that is better at protecting a doctor against embezzlement?
  • What is the most secure software?

This question is analogous to asking if one hammer is safer to use than another. All hammers have the potential to be safe if used properly and the potential to cause grievous harm if they are not.

How is Practice Management Software Built?

Let’s start by looking at your software in a way that is slightly different than to what you are accustomed. Your practice management software consists of two parts.  There is a relational database that contains “data tables” containing all the information on your practice.  Data tables include patient master information such as name, address, and phone number, as well as treatment records, receivables balances, and so on.  The database programming languages used are commercial programs made by big companies like Microsoft and Oracle and licensed to the company that makes your practice management software.  The most common database language used in practice management software is SQL, which stands for Structured Query Language.

The second part of practice management software is an interface, or “front end,” that allows you and your staff to interact with the database in an organized and hopefully user-friendly fashion.

Data Integrity

What is sometimes behind this question is fear on the part of the asking dentist that a clever staff member could somehow bypass the front end of the software and directly make edits to the database, or edit the audit trail to erase evidence of wrongdoing. 

I’ll put your mind at ease on this one.  Reading information from the database without using the practice management software’s interface isn’t hard for someone with a computer science background and some database skills.  Extraction of information from databases is something that we do on a regular basis in the course of our investigations.

However, editing the data in the data tables is a much more difficult undertaking. Without dragging you into a lot of detail about database architecture and checksums, I can tell you that doing this is very difficult in any modern practice management software.  The result of someone trying is likely that the next time someone tries to start your software it will report a database error and will require some resuscitation to run. 

I’m not saying that editing your data in some other way than using the interface can’t be done, but this would take someone with PhD-level computer knowledge.

If the Integrity of the Database is Secure, Where Does the Danger Originate?

You’ve heard the saying from gun advocates that “guns don’t kill people; people do.”  I’ll say the same thing here.  Most embezzlement occurs not because of inherent weaknesses in practice management software, but because human practice owners fail to apply sufficient supervision and common sense to their practice management software.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as embezzlement-proof software. All practice management software is designed with built-in safeguards, but then practice owners neutralize many security features.  There is always an inherent tradeoff between controls and efficiency.

For example, it is possible to set up practice management software so that the practice owner is the only person permitted to authorize credit adjustments to be made to patient accounts. While, in theory, this is safer than allowing staff members to make adjustments without the doctor’s approval, it is operationally cumbersome to have staff continuously interrupting the doctor when transactions need to be authorized. Most offices find the safest options unwieldy and end up deliberately bypassing some of the built-in safety features of their software for the sake of convenience.

Maddeningly, when new practice management software is installed, typically, the default setup disables many of the security features available, and to enable these features requires specific action on the part of the practice. The companies that make the software take this approach for understandable reasons; with unfamiliar practice management software, higher security settings inevitably prompt more calls to the software’s support line. When someone new to a software discovers that something that they are trying to do is blocked, the next step is usually to call the software’s technical support. To reduce user frustration and manage support costs, software companies normally turn off many security features in the default setup.

So let’s start treating our practice management software as the vital repository of data that it is. Having that mindset will offer far more protection than any built-in security feature in your software.

Idaho Patient Charged with Stealing Relative’s Identity to Get Dental Work

Editor’s note — this is why your office’s practice should be to check identification on every new patient.


IDAHO FALLS — Deputies say an Idaho Falls woman stole a family member’s identity and racked up several thousand dollars in medical debt.

On Aug. 18, the Bonneville County Sheriff’s office received a call from a woman who had been served papers saying she had been sent to a debt collector due to unpaid dental bills, according to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by The woman told deputies she suspected that her relative, 50-year-old Toni Jo Lepper, stole her identity to apply for credit at a dentist’s office.

The victim reported that the dentist’s office would not say who applied for over $3,000 in credit in her name back in 2016. While speaking with deputies, the victim said the dentist’s office admitted to never seeing her or having the victim as a patient.

The family member said Lepper has a history of taking family members’ money and stealing their identity to open credit cards. The relative also told investigators that in 2016, Lepper drained her bank account when she stole her identity.

Detectives spoke with Lepper on Sept. 4 about the alleged opening of the account.

“She stated, ‘I needed teeth,’” a detective wrote in the probable cause. “She later explained it was for dentures.”

Lepper explained to detectives she added her family member to the account without permission because the dentist would not give her credit herself. She also told investigators she knew it was wrong but things “got out of control,” according to court documents.

The reported $3,000 bill was sent to a former address of Lepper’s and never paid. It is unknown if the relative ever got a bill or even knew about the account until this summer.

A warrant was issued for Lepper’s arrest and she was charged with felony grand theft by larceny, embezzlement, extortion or by receiving stolen goods. Law enforcement arrested Lepper on Friday then booked and released her from the Bonneville County Jail.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13 at the Bonneville County Courthouse. If convicted of the felony charge, a judge could order Lepper to spend up to 14 years in prison and pay a $5,000 fine.

While Lepper is charged with a crime, it does not automatically mean she committed the crime. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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MN Office Manager Sentenced for Stealing $120k

Sandra Kelley

WALKER — A 61-year-old Backus woman pleaded guilty to embezzling over $100,000 from a Pine River dental office.

According to court documents, Sandra Jean Kelley said she stole the money to support her gambling and shopping habits.

Kelley was convicted and sentenced Monday, March 15, in Cass County District Court on felony theft of diverting funds from Pine River Dental Arts. Kelley, who was charged Sept. 25, 2020, pleaded guilty to the theft before being sentenced. Judge Jana M. Austad ordered a stay of imposition on her sentence, which includes Kelley serving 60 days in Cass County Jail, being placed on supervised probation for five years and paying a $795 fine.

Kelley has until March 29 to report to jail and, once she has served her 60 days, the conditions of her supervised release include not having contact with the victims, not possessing firearms or ammunition, not voting and she must complete a gambling assessment.

According to the criminal complaint, the CEO of Pine River Dental Arts discovered discrepancies leading her to believe Kelley, the former office manager, mishandled company funds. When Kelley was employed, she was the only employee who oversaw the office financial duties, including payroll and accounts receivable.

A Cass County sheriff investigator spoke with Kelley, who admitted she stole from her former employer, that it had been going on since 2013 and she did it to support her gambling and shopping habits. Kelley stated she paid her personal credit card with company funds.

The CEO claimed Kelley took extra hours through payroll and she took cash from the company account for personal use. The CEO reported that during the COVID-19 pandemic office shutdown, she began to examine the business’ records and discovered that between Oct. 9, 2017, and March 31, 2020, Kelley used the corporate checking account to pay $84,633.08 off her personal credit card, the complaint stated. She also discovered Kelley paid for her personal cellphone bill with a corporate credit card on March 30, 2020, in the amount of $852.24.

The CEO reviewed the payroll records and compared them with office records and discovered that between Sept. 24, 2015, and March 9, 2020, Kelley overpaid herself $44,587.65, the complaint stated. The CEO said after comparing business records with cash deposits at the bank, that between Sept. 24, 2015, and March 31, 2020, Kelley took over $80,878.16 in cash.

The complaint further stated Kelley’s daughter-in-law also worked for the business from 2013 through 2019 as a patient coordinator. The CEO reported records showed Kelley overpaid her daughter-in-law as an employee by $27,908.91 between Sept. 24, 2015, and Sept. 5, 2019. Kelley asserted her daughter-in-law was completely unaware that she modified her payroll. The daughter-in-law reported she had no idea anything was wrong with her paychecks.

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NY Woman Gave Illegal Discounts to Family

Vilma Nokaj

For family and friends of Vilma Nokaj, going to her dental office was good for both their teeth and their wallets, according to police.

The Mahopac resident was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly giving illegal discounts worth $8,200 to eight family members and friends at the Southeast dental office where she worked, state police said. Nokaj, 41, allegedly discounted those accounts from January 2014 to August 2014, police said.

Nokaj was charged with third-degree grand larceny and first-degree falsifying business records, both felonies, and third-degree forgery, a misdemeanor, police said.

She more or less concurrently made a complaint to police alleging sexual harassment on the part of one of the dentists at the practice.

She was arraigned in Patterson Town Court and released. The District Attorney’s office determined that they did not have a good faith basis to proceed with the prosecution.

Ms. Nokaj subsequently sued her former employer, North East Dental Management, LLC, for discrimination and retaliation. After spending several years in the court system, this case was dismissed in December 2019.

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