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0149-Caplinger

Dr. Gregory Caplinger

Real Name: Gregory Caplinger
Aliases: Gregory Frazier
Wanted For: Fraud
Missing Since: 2000

CaseEdit

Details: When Helen Root was diagnosed with cancer in 1999, she was searching for a medical miracle, and she believed she found one in Dr. Gregory Caplinger, an accomplished physcian. So Helen and her husband William mortaged their home for the $40,000 that she needed for the experimental drug remedy for her cancer. Dr. Caplinger, who had a resume filled with a long and impressive list of medical schools including Harvard, would administer the treatments. According to his brochure, the Santo Domingo clinic was a world-class facility, and there, his remedy, a drug-cocktail "Immustim", didn't need FDA approval, and he claimed it could fight many diseases, including AIDS and Hepatitis. Helen was glad to arrive at the clinic until she realized that it was not as high-class as it seemed, but she was glad when she finally met Caplinger. Although US doctors claimed that Helen was cancer free, Caplinger said that she had a tumor that needed aggressive treatment. The next morning, however, Helen's husband William called her and told her that Caplinger was not a doctor at all but instead a con-man who had scammed investors and patients out of millions of dollars with the fake drug "Immustim". He was also wanted by the FBI, who believed that the drug was filled with illegal steroids, vitamins, etc. In other words, Caplinger was a medical imposter who preyed on the families of the dying. He never even had gone to medical school either but had made several fake diplomas. Helen demanded her money back and Caplinger gave half of her $40,000 that she invested. Now, Helen is cancer-free and living well, but she was one of the lucky ones. Others never made it out of Santo Domingo. Linda and David Cernan had put their faith in Caplinger when it seemed as if David had no other options. Just three years into their marriage, David was diagnosed with hepatitis C and two years later he needed a liver transplant, but they couldn't find a donor so they decided to gamble Linda's inheritance and go to Santo Domingo. David's treatment began immediately, but instead of getting better, it appeared that he was getting worse. As the weeks went by, Linda noticed how unsanitary the hospital was. Although David was unable to get out of bed, Linda was determined to leave the hospital and bring him back to the United States to see his son. Just 24 hours after arriving in the US, David Cernan passed away. In 2000, Caplinger was tried and convicted of wire fraud and money laundering in North Carolina, but he did not show up for sentencing and has not been seen since.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the May 12, 2002 episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Results: Captured. While Unsolved Mysteries was producing this story, and after two years of hiding in the Dominican Republic, Caplinger turned himself over to the authorities for extradition to the United States. In Philadelphia, he was found guilty of several counts of wire fraud, was sentenced to fourteen years in prison and restitution of $1 million dollars to his victims. In July of 2009, Caplinger died while serving his prison term. William Root, who was filmed in the segment, died in September 2014.
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