(FOX 11) - A man who allegedly impersonated being a pharmacist was caught last month by homeland security when crossing the border from Mexico.
Officials say, Benito Plascencia's crimes go back 16 years, and today the Whittier man appeared in an L.A. courtroom.
Officials say he duped several pharmacies into hiring him.
The LA County DA's office charged Plascencia with false impersonation, identity theft, and false representation as a pharmacist.
Officials say, he's been found guilty for faking the job once before - 10 years ago.
The owner of Century Pharmacy in Santa Monica, Joseph Amin, says it's strange Plascencia's recent employers didn't catch this during background checks.
"It is really the first time I've heard such a thing. I've never heard this kind of thing before," says Amin.
Amin says to his knowledge, his employees have never used fake drivers licenses, pharmacy licenses and social security cards like Plascencia allegedly did.
Amin says owners have to use their gut feeling in addition to background checks.
"For us, the behavior and conduct of the pharmacist is very important. We also check the knowledge of the pharmacist to see how knowledgeable they are. And you can really detect if there's something wrong with the guy," said Amin.
Plascencia had a tech license, but never applied for a pharmacist license.
Still, Amin says that should be enough for even a customer to catch on.
Pharmacy customers we spoke to...not so sure though.
"I could be snookered myself. It could happen to anyone," said Steve Keyser.
The Department of Consumer Affairs isn't releasing the names of all the pharmacies Placencia worked at.
They say they are victims too.
But they believe he could have targeted other pharmacies.
They want anyone with information to reach out to Scott Vredenburgh and the Division of Investigation's Chatsworth Office at 818 885 2000.
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