NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
DALLAS — This summer, News 8 discovered some dentists were luring kids to their offices with pizza and pocket change without their parents' permission, then billing Medicaid for dental procedures that were unneeded.
Tiara Truelove said she and six other kids were offered cash on the campus of Dallas Can Academy in March when they were on their lunch break. A dental recruiter then drove them to All About Dentistry on Scyene Road.
After the recruiter fed the students pizza, their teeth were cleaned and they were each given $10, Tiara said.
When her mother, Tiffney Truelove, found out, she went to the office to complain and said she was met with indifference by the staff.
"You picked up my — at the time 16-year-old — and took her to the dentist, and you bribed her, and you basically kidnapped her," Truelove said. "And after you fed her, you supposedly cleaned her teeth. And then you brought her back and you don't think that you did nothing wrong?"
Dr. Hamid Farahani and two other people own the All About Dentistry office on Scyene Road where the work was done. Farahani said the work was done by Dr. Seyed Masood Shariati, a contract employee.
News 8 has learned that Dr. Shariati left the country shortly after we reported that a total of six children had been taken by an All About Dentistry van in July.
Dr. Farahani — who is still practicing out of offices in Garland and Fort Worth — said the problems occurred because of "a typo, a mistake that was done."
Dentists tell News 8 that it's possible for a Medicaid dental provider to obtain a child's Medicaid number and bill Medicaid without a parent's permission. All it requires is access to Medicaid's provider website, the child's name, and date of birth.
If the child has been treated in the Medicaid system before, his or her Medicaid number can be obtained through the site, and billing can commence.
Texas Medicaid has tried to tighten up the process over the last few months, dentists say.
But the parents whose kids were enticed into vans and taken to All About Dentistry are asking if anyone cares about their children.
Blanca Flores' 14-year-old grandson Isaac was taken to an All About Dentistry office in a van last March, his Medicaid records show. Isaac has ADHD and sometimes speaks haltingly, and when he wasn't home before 8:30 p.m., she became concerned.
Flores immediately complained to every agency that would listen about what happened.
She's still angry.
"Take our kids? Do with them what they want to do and all the agencies are letting them get away with it. DPD. Medicaid. The attorney general's office. So, I guess they can just come and take our kids off the street and nobody cares," Flores said.
Dr. Tammy Gough of Plano is the chairwoman of the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, which is supposed to police the profession. Ms. Gough does not return WFAA's phone calls.
The Office of the Inspector General of Texas Health and Human Services says it is working on the case, but was not aware that Dr. Shariati had left the country.
The Texas Attorney General has not responded to Blanca Flores after seven months.
Dallas police — with 13 children potentially taken off the street without their parents' permission — are still looking into the case.