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Psychiatrist Who Practiced for Over 20 Years Accused of Faking Medical Degree

M. Spencer Green

A psychiatrist who practiced in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service for over two decades allegedly forged a degree to get her job and earned more than $1 million, a court heard this week. 


This week, the Manchester Crown Court heard that Iranian-born Zholia Alemi, who is “believed to be 60,” claimed to have obtained her doctor’s qualification from the University of Auckland in 1992. But, Alemi allegedly never passed her six-year Bachelor of Medicine program and Bachelor of Surgery course. Reportedly, Alemi failed her exams before moving to the U.K.

 "In a nutshell, the prosecution case against this defendant is that, for a period of approximately 20 years, she held herself out and practiced as a doctor, a doctor of medicine, when, in truth, she had never passed or achieved the relevant university qualification and was not a properly qualified doctor at all,” prosecutor Christopher Stables told the court, according to Fox News. "That identifies the issue which is at the heart of this case as you will hear."

Stables described Alemi as “a most accomplished forger and fraudster, but has no qualification that would allow her to be called, or in any way to be properly regarded as, a doctor.” Allegedly, Alemi forged a degree and a letter of verification and sent them to the U.K.’s General Medicine Council in 1995 to become a registered doctor in the U.K, according to BBC. Stables pointed out that Alemi worked “a number of jobs” that spanned “quite literally the length and breadth of the country” from 1995 to 2017. He said a “conservative estimate” of the total amount of money Alemi earned from the NHS is “somewhere between £1m and £1.3m.”


Alemi allegedly joined the GMC’s medical register through a method known as the “Commonwealth Route,” which has since been abolished. This could only be obtained if the applicant had a certain degree known as the MBChB. And, the person who allegedly signed Alemi’s verification letter had left her job by the time Alemi allegedly forged the document.

"In short, this defendant exploited [the Commonwealth route], she forged her qualifications, she made bogus assertions as to what her experience had been," Stables said. "In this regard, she completely deceived the GMC into accepting that she was a fully qualified doctor [when] in fact, she never was.” 

Reportedly, police searched a home owned by Alemi in Northern Ireland and found a “forger’s kit.”

Alemi reportedly denies 13 counts of fraud, three of obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception, two of forgery and two of using a false instrument. Her trial is expected to last several weeks.

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