Fake therapist busted in Sarasota after duping clients for years

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SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Sarasota police say a fake therapist has been treating patients for years! Officials say he duped and took advantage of clients who were genuinely seeking help.

On his website, Dr. Philip Nikao claims to have decades of experience and worked with the likes of Rudy Giuliani and Margaret Thatcher.

Police say in his office in downtown Sarasota, he claimed to have a doctorate and was trained to treat patients with drug, food, or sex addiction.

But his true identity is 43-year-old Phillip Stutzman, and police say he’s a fraud.

“All his degrees were falsified,” said Sarasota Police spokeswoman Genevieve Judge. “Its just troubling to know that an individual who claimed to have a medical background and claimed to be a doctor is taking advantage of people in their biggest time of need.” 

Last week, Stutzman was arrested and charged with felonies after three separate women came forward to Sarasota Police.

They sought treatment from him and they described odd behavior. In some cases, he tried to kiss them. In one instance he gave a patient a sex toy.

Police say he has no license and likely doesn’t have a GED and he’s been fooling clients since at least 2016.

“I was shocked,” said one former patient.

A woman, who didn’t want to be identified, was one of his patients.

“He’s not a doctor, he’s just a random guy that conned everyone and I’m kind of sick to my stomach that I trusted this guy,” she said.

Stutzman has bonded out but is not talking. 

Actual therapists, like Todd Shapiro of First Step Sarasota, are horrified.

“He would’ve had to go through training, the equivalent of a medical doctor, to be able to call himself a doctor,” said Shapiro.

Shapiro says patients have a right to ask about licenses.

“You shouldn’t even ask for it, it should be clearly on the wall in their office,” said Shapiro.

Police say there are likely more victims out there and Stutzman could face additional charges. His former patient has advice for others.

“There’s good people out there. We still have to trust people, but maybe go with your gut feeling, ‘cuz I should have and I didn’t,” she said.

If you were ever a patient of ‘Dr. Phillip Nikao,’ call Sarasota Police. If you ever want to check on a therapist’s license, click this link.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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