Freeport man to pay $11G in kidney donor 'sham,' says AG
A Freeport man who falsely claimed to connect ill people with potential kidney donors has agreed to pay at least $11,000 as part of a recent settlement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Michael T. Goldstein, 42, settled with Schneiderman on Nov. 18. A yearlong state probe found that he charged unlawful fees for "sham assistance," which he promoted with "bogus ads and fake testimonials," the attorney general announced Monday.
"There are more than 8,000 people waiting for kidney donors in New York State, and those patients and their loved ones must not be preyed upon in this manner," Schneiderman said in a prepared statement.
Goldstein could not be reached for comment Monday.
Goldstein, who used a post office box as his business address, ran his company -- alternately titled Nephrologica and the World Kidney Network -- out of his family's Freeport home, officials said.
In the signed settlement, Goldstein agreed to shut down his business, refund all money he received from clients, and to pay the attorney general's office $5,000 for investigation costs. Schneiderman said Goldstein has already returned $6,000 to one former client -- an out-of-state resident who sought help finding a kidney donor for his ill mother. Officials did not detail the number of alleged victims.
That victim's complaint to the attorney general's fraud hotline last October spurred the state probe. Goldstein had solicited the man in 2011 by using a fake name to reply to his online request for help, officials said.
In that reply, Goldstein falsely claimed that Nephrologica found a kidney donor for another client in just seven months, and that the company had coordinated more than 2,000 transplants, Schneiderman said.