A Florida man is accused of masquerading as a doctor to treat patients suffering problems with their mental well-being.
Phillip Jay Stutzman, 42, a life coach of Sarasota, is charged with three felony counts of unlicensed practice of a health care profession. Sarasota Police Department arrested Stutzman on Thursday.
According to the affidavit, Stutzman claimed his alter-ego Dr. Phillip Nikao had a masters in neuroscience and a doctorate in psychology, using these allegedly bogus credentials to provide services since 2016.
“He provides services ranging from coaching to sexual abuse and trauma, with no such training,” the complainant, a former client, told police. “His advertisements and sales pitches are based on his education and experience with leaders in the industry to convince clients to pay very high rates for his services, while putting people at risk by trusting his professional advice as a doctor.”
Business cards and internet searches showed Stutzman presenting himself as Dr. Nikao, officers said.
Police spoke with three women who said they had paid Stutzman for his therapy services. One woman had weight and anxiety problems and claimed she saw him every week for three years, but stopped upon learning he is not a doctor.
Another two women alleged they were paying $150 a month each to Dr. Nikao as a retainer for his services, including for marriage and sex therapy sessions, but also terminated the relationship upon discovering he is not a doctor.
One of those women said she bartered with him for payment, and that he would sometimes accept keto—a diet supplement to aid weight loss—in lieu of cash.
The client receiving marriage therapy told police she believed Stutzman was trying to “cause a wedge” in her relationship and “see where it’s going to go.”
The police affidavit also states that the Florida Department of Health could not find any valid licenses for the names of Stutzman or Nikao. Moreover, California Southern University, from where Stutzman claimed he received his degrees, confirmed his certificates were fake.
“The university verified that the degrees were falsified, to include incorrect signatures, and incorrect school seal, as well as confirmation that the school never offered a degree in ‘Behavioral Neuroscience,'” the affidavit said.
Stutzman is currently being held in Sarasota County Jail on a $20,000 bond and is due in court on July 26. He did not respond immediately to Newsweek‘s request for comment.
His website, which is still live, no longer refers to Phillip Nikao as a doctor. According to the website: “Phillip Nikao specializes in the art of training your brain. Whether the addiction is drugs, food, sex, alcohol, or any other form of self-sabotage, Nikao is The Confidential Strategist in creating the addictions you want, and eliminating the addictions and lifestyle patterns that you don’t want. He is the results-oriented, discrete strategist of brain science to high-achievers.”