Ottawa’s Omar Anwar won bail on Friday after being arrested on charges that he impersonated a dentist and forged medical school records in a failed bid to take dental exams at McGill University in May.
This type of alleged identity fraud is so rare that the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) said it has seen it only twice in the past two decades.
Police said Anwar, 29, worked as a dental assistant at two Ottawa clinics.
The criminal investigation began after the NDEB called Ottawa police saying someone had attempted to take dental exams on May 27-28 with falsified credentials. In order to write the exam, applicants must have a degree from an accredited dental school.
The investigation revealed that Anwar allegedly accessed the University of Minnesota credentials of a real dentist and then applied online to take the dental exams. (Anwar is also charged with uttering a forged document.)
A handcuffed Anwar appeared in court on Friday and won bail right away.
His defence lawyer, Paolo Giancaterino, said his client is looking forward to telling his side of the story.
Anwar was released on conditions that he live at his family home in Alta Vista and that he not work at dental clinics.
The reputed imposter is also charged with false pretense for landing those jobs, police said. He was also charged with uttering forged documents for a series of alleged fake resumés.
An Ottawa police detective said that, had the investigation revealed the accused actually worked as a dental hygienist or dentist, he would have been charged with assault.
While the accused fraudster never worked as a dentist, he portrayed himself as one in online profiles, including one that said he was a specialist.
There are numerous selfies — some with him posing with leased luxury cars, including a Lamborghini he named “Ava” — on his Instagram account, where he portrays himself as a dental surgeon, posting an image of a T-shirt that reads, “I am a Dental Surgeon, do you think a sane person would do this job?” He also suggests in one photo that he was doing surgery on May 5 with hashtags that include #dentist #surgery #hardwork.
His LinkedIn account said he worked as a dental-oral surgeon at Harmony Dentistry from June 2014 to present.
A receptionist at Harmony Dentistry on Cyrville Road was reluctant to speak about Anwar, but confirmed he had worked at the dental clinic for a short period “shadowing” other hygienists and dentists until he “passed his exams.”
Kim Phillips, communications manager with the NDEB, said 900 people write that exam each year, almost always without any red flags going up.
“It’s very unusual, it’s not something we come across very often,” Phillips said. “We do a detailed credential evaluation on all applicants, and I think we’ve seen this two times in the last 20 years.”
She said had Anwar taken the exam and passed with a certificate, he would have had to go through several more steps before he would have been able to practise in a specific province.
Anwar lists several institutions on his LinkedIn account (which, along with his other social media accounts, were shut down or made private Friday afternoon) where he obtained degrees, including the University of Calgary where he said he completed a master’s degree in internal medicine in 2011; and a health sciences degree from the University of Ottawa in 2010. The U of O could only confirm that a student by the same name completed an Honours Bachelor in Health Sciences (BHSc) in 2011.
His home address is listed in Alta Vista. On Friday afternoon, his mother answered the phone. When asked if he was a dentist, she said, “Yes.” Asked where he went to dental school, she said, “Spain.” After further questions, she said, “Do you mind if he calls you? I’m not doing well right now.”