Fraudster out of the game

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By GUY WILLIAMS

A disgraced chiropractor living in Arrowtown who defrauded ACC of more than $130,000 denies he’s providing chiropractic services.

Since revealing Matthew Richard Cochrane’s fraud convictions last month, Mountain Scene’s
been bombarded by messages from readers about a house call service he’s advertising in posts to a ‘‘Fix My Back’’ Facebook page.

The 45-year-old, who committed the fraud while operating as a licensed chiropractor in Queenstown and the Auckland area in 2015 and 2016, no longer holds a current practising certificate with the New Zealand Chiropractic Board.

But in his Facebook posts he’s been referring to himself as a ‘‘practitioner’’, and used
terminology like ‘‘gentle alignment’’, ‘‘gentle adjust’’ and ‘‘treatment’, giving the impression he’s providing chiropractic services.

That all stopped after the Scene alerted the Board a week ago.

Cochrane tells Scene he’s only providing a massage service, and is now choosing his words more carefully in his posts to avoid any confusion.

‘‘We’ve searched all the online stuff, and deleted anything to do with that, just to make sure.

‘‘It’s massage, that’s all it is, I’m not doing any chiropractic at all.’’

He says he has no plans to return to his former profession: ‘‘I’m done with it.’’

But one reader who contacted Scene about Cochrane says he made a series of outlandish claims when he treated her last month.

The woman, who Scene agreed not to name, says he told her he had a degree in neuropsychology, was a lecturer at the Auckland School of Medicine and worked with professional golfers at the NZ Open in Arrowtown.

‘‘It just didn’t really ring true to me,’’ she says.

He gave her ‘‘gentle spinal manipulation’’ and a massage for an hour, charging $47.

He also told her he’d studied chiropractic for four years ‘‘but didn’t agree with their methods’’.

‘‘He said he had his own way of treating people.

‘‘It didn’t feel right — there was something weird about him.’’

Cochrane says none of those statements about his background are correct, and he denies ever saying them.

He was convicted in the Auckland District Court in July of eight charges of dishonestly using a document, over a 20-month period, to claim $134,578 from ACC.

He was sentenced to five months’ community detention at an Arrowtown address, and ordered to complete 100 hours’ community work.

Until his community detention expires, he’s subject to a nightly curfew.

An emailed statement from the NZ Chiropractic Board says Cochrane is still a registered member, but practising without an annual practising certificate is a matter it ‘‘takes seriously’’, and it can refer concerns about a practitioner’s conduct to a professional conduct committee for investigation.

The committee can lay a disciplinary charge before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, and practising without a current certificate is one of the grounds for discipline under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act, the statement says.

‘‘This is a matter that requires further consideration, including a response from Mr Cochrane, so the Board cannot comment further at this stage.’’

guy.williams@scene.co.nz