Attorney General James Secures $100,000 from Manhattan Doctor Who Manipulated Online Reviews
Dr. Mark Mohrmann and His Wife Suppressed Negative Reviews and Obtained Fake Positive Reviews for His Orthopedic Practice
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James secured $100,000 from a Manhattan-based orthopedic doctor who manipulated numerous online reviews of his practice to entice prospective patients. An investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) into Dr. Mark Mohrmann and his practice, Highline Orthopedics, found that he and his wife worked together to suppress negative reviews and artificially inflate positive reviews of his practice on numerous websites, including ZocDoc, Google, Yelp, Healthgrades, Vitals, Md.com, RateMds.com, and the Better Business Bureau. Fake online reviews are deceptive and a violation of New York’s business laws. As a result of today’s agreement, Dr. Mohrmann and his wife are required to continue to take down all of the fake positive reviews online and Dr. Mohrmann must pay $100,000 in penalties.
“Many patients rely on online reviews when choosing which doctor to trust with their health, and it’s important that these reviews are authentic,” said Attorney General James. “Dr. Mohrmann deceived patients through a secret campaign to remove negative reviews and unfairly obtain positive reviews to boost his practice. These actions are illegal and unacceptable, particularly for critical services like medical care. My office will continue to take action against those trying to mislead patients in New York.”
Dr. Mohrmann and his wife used several techniques to prevent prospective patients from seeing negative reviews posted by dissatisfied patients. On some platforms, they would falsely flag negative reviews for removal for violating the platforms’ policies prohibiting inappropriate conduct. In other cases, Dr. Mohrmann would have his office contact patients who left negative reviews and offer to refund their copay or other costs in exchange for removing the bad review. To prevent some patients from even having the opportunity to leave a negative review on the popular medical booking site ZocDoc, Dr. Mohrmann would falsely indicate that the patients had not shown up for a scheduled appointment so that ZocDoc would not solicit those patients for reviews. As a result of these efforts, common complaints about Dr. Mohrmann, such as failing to listen to patient complaints, surprise charges, poor bedside manner, and poor communication were hidden from prospective patients.
In addition to suppressing negative reviews online, Dr. Mohrmann and his wife worked together to illegally obtain fake positive reviews. They asked friends, family, and employees to leave positive, five-star reviews, regardless of whether they had actually been seen or received treatment. Ms. Mohrmann also hired contractors on sites such as Fiverr.com and Upwork.com to post fake reviews. Ms. Mohrmann either wrote the text for such reviews herself or copied the text of positive reviews posted for other orthopedic specialists and provided them to the contractors. The contractors would then utilize networks of fraudulent accounts to post the reviews under the guise of one of Dr. Mohrmann’s patients.
Attorney General James would like to thank Kay Dean of Fake Review Watch for assisting with this investigation.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Marc Montgomery and Hanna Baek of the Bureau of Internet and Technology, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Kim A. Berger and Deputy Bureau Chief Clark P. Russell. The Bureau of Internet and Technology is a part of the Division for Economic Justice, which is overseen by Chief Deputy Attorney General Chris D’Angelo and First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.