Real Name: Gregory E. Caplinger
Aliases: Gregory Frazier
Wanted For: Fraud
Missing Since: 2000
Details: When Helen Root was diagnosed with third-stage colon cancer in 1999, she began searching for a medical miracle. She believed she found one in Dr. Gregory Caplinger, an accomplished physician. So Helen and her husband William mortgaged 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. At this facility, his remedy, a drug-cocktail "Immustim", didn't need FDA approval. 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. However, she was happy 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. Instead, he was 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 impostor 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 her 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. Two years later he needed a liver transplant, but they couldn't find a donor. They decided to gamble with 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. However, Caplinger assured the Cernans that David would improve.
As the weeks went by, Linda noticed how unsanitary the hospital was. She noticed that more than half of the time, there was no water or electricity. She also noticed that there were lizards and cockroaches crawling around the room. 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. Sadly, just twenty-four 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. In July of 2001, while Unsolved Mysteries was producing this story, Caplinger turned himself over to the authorities in Dominican Republic. He had been living there for two years. He was extradited to the United States to face wire fraud charges. In Philadelphia, he was found guilty of several counts of wire fraud. He was sentenced to fourteen years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $1 million 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.
- Gregory Caplinger on Unsolved Archive
- Fake Aids doctor sentenced
- Gregory Caplinger and His Cancer Scam
- United States v. Caplinger