He calls himself “Dr. Craig.”
For months, he’s treated patients in a salon suite on the ground floor of a popular high-rise in downtown Tempe.
Dr. Craig’s business goes by a variety of names: My MD Clinic, My Laser Center and My Body Lipo Laser. He offers a lot of services, including Botox, laser hair removal, tattoo removal, and shots of human growth hormone (HGH).
On a business card outside the door, it also says, “For all your Laser and Medical Needs.”
But there’s a problem: Dr. Craig isn’t a real doctor.
An undercover ABC15 investigation found that Craig Allen Scherf is a convicted felon, who doesn’t have state licenses to perform the medical and cosmetic services that he advertises.
“It’s disturbing to me that somebody can do this and get away with it for so long,” said a person who recently met Scherf professionally and called ABC15 after finding him suspicious. [ABC15 agreed to conceal the person’s identity because of Scherf’s criminal history]
On Groupon, a coupon site for businesses to sell discount services, it shows hundreds of people have bought services for Scherf’s businesses in recent months. The deals advertise discounts of up to 40 percent off for Botox and Dysport treatments – injectable products that are allowed to be provided only by licensed doctors and nurses.
“He could be giving somebody diseases,” said the person who notified ABC15. “How do we know he’s using the products he says he’s using? What if he’s reusing needles? This guy could be really dangerous.”
Watch part one of the investigation below:
Watch part two of the investigation below:
ABC15 sent a pair of producers undercover into Scherf’s clinic with hidden cameras and microphones.
The producers set up separate appointments on different days. One of the appointments was for Botox and the other for shots of human growth hormone (HGH). Both are services that require medical degrees and licenses.
At the Botox appointment, Scherf, who was dressed in blue medical scrubs and identified himself as a “doctor,” seemed ready to perform the procedure the moment our producer walked in the door.
- Scherf: I’m going to have you leave your purse right here.
- Producer: Well hold on. I have a lot of questions because I’ve never had Botox before.
- Scherf: Ok, let’s do this. Let’s go sit and have a chat. Ok?
- Producer: Ok. I’m super nervous.
- Scherf: Oh, don’t worry about it.
For nearly 10 minutes, Scherf discusses options with our producer, works to address her concerns, and reassures her that he’s qualified. Here are some of the statements he made:
- Scherf: This is what we can do. See where the lines are. We can inject here with a little bit of Botox. A little bit. We can pull this back like this.
- Scherf: I’ve been doing reconstructive surgery for a while now.
- Scherf: I’ve been doing this a very long time.
- Scherf: I’ve been doing this for 19 years on the cosmetic side. So I see people like you a lot.
He also told our producer he uses the smallest needles he can find.
- Scherf: The needle is so small. It’s the size of a hair. It’s the smallest I can get. And the reason I do that is it’s easier on people.
When our producer tells Scherf that she’s not ready to commit to doing Botox that day, he offers to let her watch other appointments.
- Scherf: If you want to come back tomorrow, I have a couple of girls that are coming back for like the third and fourth time. If you want to sit in, they have no problem with people watching because I’ve done it before.
During the second appointment, our producer spoke to Scherf about human growth hormone. According to officials, HGH is tightly-regulated and only allowed for physicians to prescribe in a few specific medical situations.
Throughout the appointment, Scherf gave a series of conflicting answers about where the HGH came from, mixing the name of labs and drug companies.
At one point, he told our producer the HGH comes from a local FDA lab called DNH. He later called it DHN. However, ABC15 couldn’t locate a laboratory by those names in Arizona. The FDA also publicly states that it doesn’t approve labs.
Scherf also tried to convince our producer to use another product called peptides, which he claimed gives similar results to HGH. One of the main reasons to use peptides, according to Scherf, is the high cost of HGH.
- Scherf: For a cycle, you’re looking at $410 for peptides. For HGH, from $1100 to $1300.
- Producer: And you do both?
- Scherf: Yeah we do both.
Scherf also said that he’s been working with HGH for more than a decade.
- Producer: What are the side effects of HGH?
- Scherf: The biggest thing we see every now and then is high blood pressure. You’ll get temperamental swings. Other than that, that’s about it. We have people say, ‘we get rashes.’ I have not seen it. I have been working on patients for 11 years using HGH.
- Producer: Oh you’ve been doing it for 11 years?
- Scherf: Yeah. Yeah.
It’s not clear if Scherf is actually giving people the products he claims he is, or whether what he told our producers is true.
Scherf has a history of not telling the truth, records show.
In 1991, Scherf was fired from his job as a Phoenix Police officer after just two years on the force. According to an internal police records, he was terminated after misconduct on four different occasions. Two of the misconduct findings said he made “false” statements and was “untruthful."
In other incidents, Scherf “unnecessarily” displayed his firearms off-duty, records show.
Scherf was also arrested, along with a handful of other individuals, by Tempe Police after a 2011 investigation involving a cannabis club he was operating. The operation had several locations, including Las Vegas.
Detectives went undercover “a total of eight times” and purchased marijuana, records show.
Scherf pleaded guilty to a pair of felony charges and was sentenced to serve two years of probation and pay thousands of dollars in restitution.
Tempe Police Det. Lily Duran, one of the undercover investigators, said Scherf was playing doctor in that case too.
“What was very particular about him is he wore a white lab coat,” Duran said. “It appeared he wanted people to believe he was a doctor.”
During police interviews, detectives wrote that Scherf repeatedly changed his story and offered a series of conflicting statements about the cannabis club and his involvement. He also told officers he was a retired federal agent, a former Navy SEAL, and a current police firearms instructor.
“Our investigation showed he was lying about a lot of things,” Duran said.
ABC15 approached Scherf about 15 minutes after the station’s second undercover appointment.
Scherf denied ever calling himself a doctor. He also continued to deny it even after ABC15 showed him business cards with “Dr. Craig” written on them.
“I’m a laser tech, and that’s what I do,” he said. Scherf claimed he was appropriately licensed with the State of Arizona. But state officials said he is not.
Scherf also claimed that other doctors come to this clinic to perform services like Botox and give HGH. However, he refused to provide ABC15 with their full names and told a reporter, “I’m not playing that game with you.”
Scherf said that ABC15 didn’t understand what was going on before walking into his office and shutting the door.
“Channel 15 doesn’t know what’s going, everything like that,” he said. “We run a legitimate place here, plain and simple.”
Immediately after ABC15’s unscheduled interview with Scherf, a woman walked over to a reporter to ask why the station was questioning him.
Her name is Tracy Stombres, and she said Scherf had just given her injections of Dysport, a product similar to Botox.
“I heard you say you’re not supposed to do Botox, and I’m like ‘Oh my god,” Stombres said. When asked how she felt now knowing Scherf wasn’t a doctor, she said, “scared.”
ABC15 notified local, state, and federal authorities after confronting Scherf. Officials with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office said the agency is now investigating.
Neighboring businesses also told ABC15 that they have not seen Scherf treating people at his office since ABC15’s visit. A printed letter was left in the window.
“The staff of My MD Clinic has decided to close our doors for good.”
The letter also states that the business just received a “federal stamp” on an immune support supplement that it will begin to sell. “We, as a group, agree that we are best served in this new adventure.”
As for January 23, deals for My MD Clinic were still being sold on Groupon.
In Arizona, health and cosmetology boards provide online license searches. These searches make it easy to check if professionals are licensed to work in Arizona.
ABC15 has set up a special page with links to the license search page for every board.
It’s also important to remember, that patients and consumers have a right to ask and see a copy of a health professional’s license. Many professionals are required to have them posted in their offices.
Below is a list of health and cosmetic services that require licenses. The list includes what type of license is required to do each type of service.
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at firstname.lastname@example.org.