Dalya Karezi posted multiple videos to TikTok and Instagram in which she wore medical scrubs and a stethoscope and discussed topics such as reproductive and sexual health despite never being medically qualified.
The 30-year-old pleaded guilty in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday to two charges after falsely indicating she was qualified to practise medicine.
She was given a two-year community corrections order and ordered to pay $13,300 to cover the legal costs of medical regulator, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
Karezi’s TikTok account, which features the handle “dr.dalya.s”, amassed more than 200,000 followers, while some of her videos racked up over 15 million views.
On Instagram, she described herself as “Dalya (stethoscope emoji) MD Doctor”.
As well as posting misleading videos, Karezi sent various emails between July 2019 and April 2021 in which she used the title doctor and included a range of post-nominals falsely indicating she held various qualifications and positions.
During sentencing, deputy chief magistrate Theo Tsavdaridis said rules around who could be registered as a doctor existed for the protection of the public.
He noted a large number of the posts were made during COVID-19 lockdowns, when many people were receiving information and health advice through social media.
Medical Board of Australia chair Anne Tonkin said there was more to being a doctor than wearing scrubs and putting a “Dr” in front of your name.
“Registered medical practitioners have done years of training and must abide by strict professional codes of conduct,” she said.
Following an AHPRA investigation, 56 videos on Karezi’s TikTok account and 28 posts on her Instagram from between May 2020 and September 2021 were removed.
AHPRA chief executive Martin Fletcher said falsely claiming to be a medical practitioner on social media put the public at risk.
“(The) outcome is a reminder of how seriously we take this behaviour,” he said.