Dental Fraud - Are you at risk?

Dental Practice Fraud – Are you at risk?

Special Guest – Dental Practice Fraud Examiner Susan Gunn

It may be hard to believe, but three out of five dental practices will experience some form of dental fraud or embezzlement. Dealing with theft, especially from a trusted employee, can be a shocking experience. There are steps that you can take to help prevent this or catch it early on, there by limiting your loss. In this podcast, Mark interviews Dental Practice Fraud Examiner Susan Gunn and they discuss how to protect your dental practice. If you would like to learn more about Susan Gunn’s services, please visit

Podcast Highlights:

  • Embezzlement, if it’s happening, won’t just go away on its own
  • Three out of five practices will experience embezzlement
  • Average embezzlement case – $125,000
  • Three ways to protect your practice
  • It’s not what you do. It’s what you give the appearance that you’re doing.
  • Lock’em up!
  • Pay attention! Especially during busy times

Dental Practice Fraud - Interview with Susan Gunn

Podcast Transcription:

Hello, and welcome to the Dental Marketing Mastery Series. This podcast is brought to you by New Patients Incorporated. I’m Howie Horrocks, the founder of New Patients Incorporated, and along with me once again is my friend and partner and the president of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.

Special Guest. Fraud Examiner Susan Gunn

Mark: Hey everybody, this is Mark Dilatush with the Dental Marketing Mastery podcast series.

And I don’t normally do the intro normally it’s the soft sultry voice of Howie who does those. He’s not here today because we have a special guest.

Special guests name is Susan Gunn, Susan Say hello.

Susan Gunn: Hi.

Mark: Hi. All right.

Susan Gunn: All right. Hello.

Mark: Hello. So, we have Susan Gunn here.

Susan is from You can Learn more about her and her company there.

But the reason why I wanted to have Susan on today is the end of the year close, to the end of the year.

We’re in the second week of December, as we record this and many dentists are right now perhaps only right now looking at their numbers.

Susan Gunn is a fraud examiner, specifically with dental offices. And this hits near and dear to our hearts here at New Patients Inc because we have two very robust active, very successful dental offices. Their marketing campaigns are shut down, because those two offices are going into fraud examinations, which basically stops everyone dead in their tracks.

So, I wanted to have Susan on our podcast so she can share many well, a few, as many as we can jam into 20 minutes while you’re on the treadmill. As many of her experiences that we can access to, maybe you, you might want to connect with her for some of her expert advice.

Maybe her books, maybe going to see her at the Chicago midwinter, whatever.

I don’t want any dentist out there who listens to our podcast to feel like they’re alone if they have – you know, even if you don’t think anything’s going on. It’s really, really good to have somebody take a look. Right, Susan?

Susan Gunn: Right. Yeah. And just to let them know I offer a free 30-minute consultation.

So, there is actually no reason not to just pick up the phone and call me if they’ve got a gut feeling something’s going on. If they think that there’s something wrong then they need to pick up the phone and call me.

Mark: Well okay, we’ve besides going to

What’s your phone number? Susan? Just in case they have a pencil and paper in front of them.

Susan Gunn: 888-994-3167.

Mark: Okay, good.

So, if you even if you’re just thinking that you might maybe have an issue, give Susan a call.

So, and how many times Susan, have you had to go in and do your work when the dentists just thought maybe there was something going on?

Susan Gunn: Yeah, like, almost 100% of the time.

Mark: Right. Right.

Susan Gunn: Yeah, generally what I tell them is if they have a gut feeling something’s going on, then it’s possible that they have a gut feeling that something’s going on, and it’s right.

Mark: Right.

Susan Gunn: But I developed it because fraud examinations are expensive, and so, if they are not convinced that there’s something going on, then I have a service that I developed just to see, let’s see what we see.

Mark: Oh, ok.

Susan Gunn: And let’s see what I gather.

And so, I can remote into their practice with them there. They look at what I see through my eyes. I actually train them in the process to look at the reports.

And here are the reports that you need to look at, kind of do this at the end of the month and do this at the end of the week. And, you know, you may want to consider changing this up a little bit. I go through all of those things.

And it’s that service is called Ask the Expert. And it’s two hours of time whenever they can schedule it. It’s not based on me, it’s them.

But I developed it because of the ones that weren’t convinced that anything really was going on.

At the end of the call, if we do find something then they can take what they spent on that two-hour phone call, and it wraps into a fraud examination.

So, they don’t have to – you know, they’re not lost the money actually there and I haven’t had anybody say, I wish I hadn’t done that. All of them go, my God, I got so much out of this time together. Because I literally say, look here, look here. Here’s what you’re looking for, here’s how to read this report.

Mark: Right? Right.

Susan Gunn: To train them to do it. You know, I’ve built my whole business Mark, to teach them how to review their practice.

Mark: Right.

Embezzlement, if it’s happening, won’t just go away on its own

Susan Gunn: And to look at it from a business standpoint, and this is no different. Trying to get them to pay attention to what’s going on. Because if embezzlement is happening in their practice. It’s not going to go away. It doesn’t heal itself.

Mark: No, no, yeah.

Susan Gunn: You know, it gets worse.

Mark: Right? Right. And even if it’s even if it’s little things, those little things sometimes can grow into bigger things as employees get braver, right?

Susan Gunn: right. Oh, yeah. Brazen, more brazen as well.

Mark: Brazen. There you go. Um, yeah. And you and I have been around dentistry now for three decades or at least close to that, or maybe more!

Susan Gunn: Getting there.

Mark: Getting there. And yeah, we’ve seen our share of, of these stories and so that’s good.

Susan Gunn: Yeah.

Three out of five practices will experience embezzlement

Susan Gunn: I tell them, I tell them if they, because everybody always asks me how often it happens in dentistry. And they’re always surprised when we say three out of five.

And that’s an estimate, we really do think it’s three out of five, about 60% of the practices. Which is high!

Mark: Right

Susan Gunn: But the reality of it is, if they own a practice for 30 years, someone is going to steal from them.

Mark: Right.

Susan Gunn: I mean, it’s part of owning a business, right?

Mark: I, and Howie and I own a business and you know, we’ve been stolen from.

So, this isn’t just isolated to dentists, it just happens to be our audience.

Susan Gunn: Exactly

Mark: Right?

Susan Gunn: It’s a business.

Mark: Yeah, it’s every business.

I mean, I, I wish, you know, somebody could come in and guarantee us that we wouldn’t be ripped off too. But you know, we can’t.

So, that’s why that’s why we have folks like Susan.

So, so, that’s cool.

So, if a dentist is wondering maybe, do I think, I sense or Mary’s been acting a little weird lately or ‘Wow, that’s a big ring Mary got over the holidays.’ Or ‘Wow, that’s a nicer car than I have.’

Yeah, I mean, if there’s, if there’s signs on the, if there are signs out there, then it – I can see where a dentist, especially if it’s a trusted member of the team would be hesitant to… actually I bet you some dentists would be hesitant to even to find out even if it was true. Right?

Susan Gunn: Yeah, I’ve had those phone calls where the person has been there for 20 something years.

Mark: Yeah

Average embezzlement case – $125,000

Susan Gunn: Which I will tell you, it’s, my average case is about $125,000, average.

Mark: Hold on, hold on, hold on. That’s not what you charge?

Susan Gunn: No, no, that’s the average…gosh one case a year. That’s all I need to do.

Mark: There you go!

Susan Gunn: No, the average embezzlement case is $125,000.

Mark: Okay. So, the office loses $125K?

Susan Gunn: Right. Yeah. And, and the probably the average length of time that the person’s there that steals is eight to 10 years. And that’s because they end up being trusted beyond anything.

Mark: Sure

Susan Gunn: Little by little they take over more of the trust of the financial duties of the practice.

When that’s really nice. We’d love to do just the things that we are designed, certified, clericalized to do.

Mark: Right, right.

Susan Gunn: When you own a business that doesn’t always happen.

Mark: Yeah.

So now, now, I’m sure there are dentists listening to this are going into it themselves.

‘Well, I’m going to solve my whole problem. And I’m just going to do all my own bookkeeping myself. I’m never going to delegate any of it to anyone. I’m going to stay up on Saturday nights, not have a life, not go anywhere with my spouse, never have a hobby never go on vacation.

I can never trust anyone.’ Right?

Susan Gunn: No, that’s not optimal.

I tell everybody that they spend a couple of hours a week doing some of these things, and there’s a way to set it up and set their systems up.

I actually offer a short-term coaching solution. That’s four months long. It’s based on my newest book, “Money In, Money Out” that you and I talked about.

Mark: “Money In, Money Out”, is that the one on you can get on Amazon?

Susan Gunn: Yeah.

Mark: Ok cool.

Susan Gunn: I didn’t want to write a book on embezzlement because that just seems kind of dumb. Because that can get in everybody’s hands. Right?

Mark: Well, then are you just teaching people how to embezzle?

Susan Gunn: Yeah. That seems right.

Mark: I see them talking about it all the time on Dental Town and I’m like, “Hey, guys, y’all just shut up.”

Susan Gunn: Yeah.

Mark: But they’re like, well, we’re not doing anything wrong was like, whatever. Go ahead.

Susan Gunn: So, what I did was I wrote a book about the systems and procedures they need to oversee and the practice, here’s what you need to put into place.

Mark: Okay.

Susan Gunn: Best practices for finance organization, if you will.

And so, anyone can read that and put the best practices in place.

But I’ll tell the doctors, the reason that I wrote that book was to help prevent, help protect the practice.

You’re not actually, and I have to be careful not say the word ‘prevent’ because there’s not anything that you can do that will prevent someone from stealing when they want to steal.

Mark: No, no, of course not. Right.

Susan Gunn: Deter them

Mark: Right. Right.

Susan Gunn: Protect your practice. Heck yeah. You put those things into place, and you’ll catch them while its $5,000 not $120,000.

Mark: Exactly.

Susan Gunn: There’s a big difference.

Mark: Yeah.

Three ways to protect your practice

Susan Gunn: There’s three.

And I’ll tell you, there’s three things that dentists can do to protect their practice.

And they’re pretty easy to do. You ready?

Mark: Go ahead

Susan Gunn: Got your pencil ready?

Mark: Go ahead.

Susan Gunn: The first one I’ll tell you is to lead with integrity.

If they’re doing the right things, they’re setting the tone. They’re setting the precedents for their practice.

That means doing things aboveboard and being honest in all of those areas. So that means you want me to deposit the cash. That’s what I’m talking about.

Mark: So, I was going to, I knew, I knew you and I are direct when we talked to each other, but you can be direct with our audience so, basically what that means is stop hiding your cash.

Susan Gunn: Yeah quit taking it home, put it in the bank.

Mark: Yeah

Susan Gunn: There’s things that you know, people will do to fudge insurance claims.

The problem with doing that is, your staff sees it happening. And now they’ve got an open door to steal from you and hold that over your head.

Mark: Oh, my God. Yeah. And I mean,

Susan Gunn: It’s huge.

Mark: It’s, it’s enormous.

I, we had a I had a client way back in the day, who called me the day after Thanksgiving and told me that he had an affair with his office manager, and now she’s stealing from him.

Susan Gunn: Oh, yeah.

Mark: Of course, she’s stealing from him.

Susan Gunn: Of my cases, 30% of them have had an affair.

Mark: There you go. There you go. Right. Yeah, so is that step number two. Did I just did I just guess step number 2?

Susan Gunn: No, no. Now that’s step one lead with integrity.

Mark: Ok

Susan Gunn: Lead with integrity. Well, and let’s talk about that for a second, the affair.

They’re not hiding it from anybody in the practice

Mark: No

Susan Gunn: Everyone in the practice knows.

And so, and outside, and patients, which you know really does not do well for building your business.

Mark: No, no.

Susan Gunn: So, the second thing I’ll tell you is to review the business reports.

There are some very simple things that you can do to review the business reports.

And I tell them, here’s a set of reports that other people can print for you, put them on your desk and you take them home.

It’s not what you do. It’s what you give the appearance that you’re doing

Because if you take them home, you’re telling them I’m looking at these reports.

Mark: Sure. It’s same thing with your credit card refunds, like, “Hey, Mary, what were these credit card refunds? Which of our patients did we give a refund to?”

As long as, you just asked that question that lets Mary know that you’re aware.

Susan Gunn: And well, Mary shouldn’t be doing credit card refunds.

Mark: I know I’m just, I’m just but you know where I was going with that.

Susan Gunn: I do, I actually had several cases. I’m glad you brought that up.

I’ve had several cases this last year where Mary gave a big credit on her credit card.

Mark: Of course.

Susan Gunn: So, Mary’s no longer at the practice.

Mark: Right, right.

Susan Gunn: But that’s another way that’s one of the reasons I adamantly suggest to not give credit card refunds.

But the second reason is, then what is deposited into the bank does not match what your practice software says they took in.

Mark: Right.

Susan Gunn: So, there’s a difference.

But so, the third thing is; the first is lead with integrity, the second is review the business reports. And there’s a way to have them created, have your systems created to make it easier to be able to review the business reports.

There’s also a way for the third thing, which is oversee the practice.

When you’re overseeing the practice, there’s a way to set that up so that it’s easier to oversee the practice.

I suggest two hours a week and that’s it. That requires the systems to be put into place.

So, it is only two hours.

Mark: Right

Susan Gunn: I truly, I get it, they’re there the whole time. They’ve got everything.

Mark: I know

Susan Gunn: There’s so much to do. I don’t want to add anything else to.

Mark: Right.

Susan Gunn: But they’ve got to do some of those.

Mark: Right.

Yeah, even if it was even, you know, even if the even if the reports are run by somebody else and handed to them at least; my goodness, at least take the time. You know what I mean?

Susan Gunn: Yeah.

Well, you know, and you and I’ve talked about this a lot.

First and foremost, they can never believe that it wouldn’t happen to them.

Mark: No

Susan Gunn: For whatever reason, you know, cause they’re paying attention.

You know, nothing would ever happen, I trust her.

Well, all the embezzlement’s that I’ve ever investigated, have been done by somebody that was trusted. You know, it just happens. And it can happen. Some of the most amazingly smart people. Look at Bernie Madoff.

Mark: Right

Susan Gunn: Amazingly smart people.

Lock ‘em up!

Mark: So, have you ever gotten anyone locked up? Because that’s what everybody wants to know.

Susan Gunn: Oh, yeah. Lots.

Mark: Oh, really good for you there. Everybody’s listening to this going. ‘Come on, man. Did she get anybody locked up?’

Susan Gunn: Oh yeah, I recommend prosecution because when you don’t, they go right down the road.

Mark: Oh, sure.

Susan Gunn: And more now, it I mean, it didn’t used to be nearly as obvious that they went down the road to somebody else’s practice.

And I’ve had so many dentists say, “Well, I just figured out another reason to let them go.”

Well, when you do that they literally go right down the road when you don’t prosecute. There’s nothing in their record that says, ‘hey, they stole’.

Mark: Right.

Susan Gunn: So, there’s no recourse.

Mark: Yeah, you know, we get, we run advertising for our company. And dentists and dental team members will click on these guides that we give away, we trade information with them so that we can market to them.

Anyway, we have a piece of software that goes out and does a background check on the people that we bring into our database. And more than a couple times we’ve run into fraud and court cases.

And I wonder to myself when I saw that, because that’s public knowledge, so you can just Google it.


So, a couple things hit my mind. The first one was, I wonder if their current employer knows this. That’s the first thing.

The second thing was, how stupid is this person not to change their email address?


Susan Gunn: Oh, yeah.

Mark: Right. So, you know, well,

Susan Gunn: Background check in the immediate area, because she knows, Mary said that she hasn’t moved, and that she’s moved around a little bit, but it’s all been locally.

Well, what you didn’t know was that Mary has been convicted of embezzlement in three surrounding states.

Mark: Right.

Susan Gunn: It’s like you have to do a broader spectrum.

Mark: Yeah

Susan Gunn: And some things don’t show up on some reports. And so, you have to do a federal one.

There’s a whole lot in fact, I have an article I’ll tell your listeners.

I have an article on my website that said that’s called Let No Background Go Unchecked.

Mark: Okay.

Susan Gunn: For them to read. It gives them exact information, what they need to order for a background check.

Mark: Beautiful, beautiful.

Pay attention! Especially during busy times

Wow, you know, this time of year just before the 31st of December that magic hour when we move money back and forth, and you know, April 14 or 13th.

We all pay attention to these things and we pay attention to them with a little bit of a greater focus.

Susan Gunn: Well, and they need to Mark, because this time of year is when they ramp up the stealing.

Mark: Right

Susan Gunn: Because no one’s paying attention.

Mark: Well, yeah, nobody’s paying attention.

And I just got off the phone just now with one of our docs.

And said, “Hey, man, how you doing?” He goes, “I’m busier than a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest.”

Basically, he said, “I’m taking off two weeks at the end of the year. So, everybody in my whole practice wants to be seen, like now.”

Susan Gunn: Yeah

Mark: Right

Susan Gunn: Yeah

Mark: And, you know, I’m having 40, $50,000 weeks. That’s great. But I couldn’t even, I don’t, I haven’t even I don’t even know if my whole staff here.”

He’s like, “I was going back and forth in between three operatories for the last 12 hours straight. I have no idea. I don’t even know if it’s sunny outside.”

I was like, yeah, that’s and that’s what happens. Like you said, that’s, that’s when they get taken advantage of when it’s that crazy.

Susan Gunn: Yeah, and they do. They do. And so, they’ve got to, they got to really, still, take a breath and look and watch what’s happening.

Mark: Yeah.

So, Susan, you also do speaking engagements.

So, we went through, I see you have this free look-see that anybody can call you, any dentists can call you up and just have you take a look.

Then you have these two hours where you actually log on with them and show them what you see. That’ll be you know, helpful.

You have your Money In, Money Out, it’s available on Amazon.

All the dental spouses out there can just go get that for a gift for your spouse.

Anyway, speaking gigs, I know, I know you’re at the Chicago Midwinter.

What can a dentist expect, first of all, what other you know where else you’re going to be?

But specifically, to the Chicago midwinter because it’s a big show. Um. What do you do from the stage when you talk about this? Is it dentists only, is it dentists?

Susan Gunn: Yes. Dentist and spouses only.

Mark: Like security. They’re like, how does that work?

Susan Gunn: Well, it’s a long time ago when I was speaking at the Northern California meeting. We had to get a bodyguard because an office manager tried to get in.

Mark: Yeah.

Susan Gunn: That was really bizarre.

She threatened me and I’m and we took it very seriously and so did the CDA. They were amazing.

And, in fact, we just we joke about that to, my bodyguards at the CDA. But, but Chicago, nobody’s threatened me.

Mark: That’s good.

Susan Gunn: It’s just me and the snow.

Mark: A bunch of docs who want to,

Susan Gunn: And a bunch of docs & spouses.

So, it is limited to doctors and spouses and, and it’s my understanding, they can’t even sign up for the course unless they are a doctor or spouse. So,

Mark: Okay, cool.

Susan Gunn: And it’s, this one’s going to be a really good one.

So, they if they have any opportunity to attend, I would highly recommend it.

But I’m also speaking at the Hinman again this year.

Mark: Oh, good. Okay.

Susan Gunn: California Dental Association

Mark: North or South

Susan Gunn: So, um, Southern

Mark: Okay, that’s a big one.

Susan Gunn: Those three big ones right there the so they have opportunities to check it out.

Mark: Awesome.

Susan, thank you so much for taking a piece of your Friday.

From, from Howie and I and the whole team here at NPI, if even if you think something’s going on, this is the person in dentistry to get ahold of. This is it, this is her.

Her name Susan Gunn.

Go to her seminar with your spouse in Chicago or any of those other places, get her book, have her take a look-see with you on a web meeting.

If you’re just even, even, an inkling of an idea that something’s going on in your practice, get her involved so that you can, not be one of the ones that are out a buck 25 before you find out.

So, Susan, thank you so much. If I don’t talk to you before the holidays, have an awesome, you’re going you’re going on a vacation.

Susan Gunn: That’s next, next month.

Mark: I’m going to Mexico next month too.

Susan Gunn: Now after your listeners hear, I have to answer all their phone calls.

Mark: Okay.

Susan Gunn: I am taking a little bit of a vacation in January before all the speaking and all that yet.

Mark: Yeah, that’s usually, the end of January on through May most is the normal.

Susan Gunn: it’s gonna be crazy.

Mark: It’s gonna be crazy.

Well, Susan, thank you very much.

We really, really appreciate it we’ll probably have you come back on in about six months just for a refresher, just for the new listeners.

Because it’s, it is, it’s really, really a terrible thing when the entire practice has to get shut down in order for an audit to, you know, the complete audit to be done.

It’s almost like you have to suspend time in order for them to do their work.

Susan Gunn: But I don’t.

Mark: Okay, well, then. Why didn’t you do these two offices? I have, probably because we found out after the fact that’s why.

Susan Gunn: Yeah, I remote in after hours.

Mark: Yeah. Oh, cool. Okay, well, thank you, and we’re definitely gonna have you back on.

Susan Gunn: Okay, sounds good. Thanks, Mark.

Mark: Thanks.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our podcast today. You can get all our podcasts on iTunes, Stitcher and and on our website

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