A person posing as a member of ARS Algarve's breast cancer screening program is contacting women in the region via phone calls, asking them for breast photographs as a means of “diagnosing cancer.”
ARS Algarve has already gone public to ensure that the case is reported to the authorities. They claim that women are being contacted in the municipalities where the Mobile Health Unit that does the free breast cancer screenings operates. This unit is promoted by the ARS.
The Unit is currently in Albufeira, and at least one of the reported scam cases occurred in Olhão. The Regional Health Administration, in a statement, has already warned the population to "pay special attention to the possibility of false breast cancer screenings through fraudulent telephone calls". The ARS Algarve Screening Centre says that "it has learned that telephone calls have been made to users in the region in recent weeks on behalf of the Breast Cancer Screening."
According to the entity, “the contact person claims to be a doctor responsible for the ARS Algarve screening program and discusses personal data and procedures that have nothing to do with the Breast Cancer Screening Program in the Algarve”, namely, sending photographs of the breasts as a way of "diagnosing" the disease.
ARS considers that “the acts reported by our users” are “likely to affect public confidence in legitimate screening carried out under the Ministry of Health's programs to promote the prevention and early detection of cancer” and will report “such occurrences” to the appropriate authorities.
This is not the first time there have been scams involving screenings. In 2002, in São Bartolomeu de Messines, several women were contacted by an alleged doctor who ludicrously ordered them to take to the street and undress so that they could have a satellite mammogram. Also, more recently, several people were contacted for alleged stroke screenings, which ultimately was a scam to sell mattresses.
The Algarve Breast Cancer Screening Program, carried out in partnership with the Algarve Cancer Association and the Algarve University Hospital Centre, began in September 2005 and has run throughout the Algarve ever since.
The screening is available to all women from 50 to 69 years old enrolled in local Health Centres, and ARS Algarve emphasizes that “they are always contacted by a letter sent directly by the ARS Algarve Screening Centre, with the appointment to perform a 3D digital mammography at the Mobile Health Unit”.
According to the Regional Health Administration, “Only in exceptional cases will users be contacted by telephone, but only to reinforce the screening, and never to request personal information of any kind from users.”
ARS adds that "the screening actions promoted by ARS Algarve among the population are always advertised on its website, which may be complemented by posters at the location, but never by personal contact, particularly by telephone".
If you have any questions regarding screening or procedures at ARS Algarve's Screening Centre, you can contact the helpline at 289889912, or the email firstname.lastname@example.org.