She was the high-flying senior psychiatrist who travelled across the country tending to patients, but Zholia Alemi was not what she seemed.

The New Zealand native had not earned her medical degree from Auckland University, as she claimed, but had dropped out in her first year and managed to hoodwink health boards and the General Medical Council (GMC) with faked documents.

The con artist then spent the next 22 years making life-altering decisions for vulnerable mental patients and was only rumbled after she was convicted of fraud and theft in October 2018.


She was jailed for five years after she faked a dementia patient’s will in an attempt to inherit the woman’s £1.3 million estate.

Jailing her, Judge James Adkin told Alemi: “This was despicable, cruel criminality motivated by pure greed.”

Alemi was working as a consultant psychologist for a dementia service in west Cumbria when she rewrote 87-year-old Gillian Belham’s will and fraudulently applied for power of attorney.

Alemi denied all charges and lied to police in interviews, even pretending not to know the identity of her own son, who was written into the will.

The convicted fraudster had failed the first year of medical school in 1992, but managed to register as a doctor with the GMC in 1995 with a forged degree certificate, forged primary medical qualifications and a fake letter of recommendation, under a visa scheme no longer in force.

Alex Owen was referred to Alemi at the Ailsa Hospital in Ayr in 2008 where she prescribed him powerful anti-psychotic drugs for depression. Last year, Mr Owen, then aged 29, was preparing to sue the health board for alleged negligence after they failed to adequately check Alemi’s credentials.

He told The Sunday Times that the fake psychiatrist diagnosed him with borderline personality disorder, a determination he disagreed with.

He said: “I was very vulnerable. It’s now clear that she didn’t have a clue what she was doing.”

Darren Lowe was being treated for depression by the fake doctor in 2008 when he flagged concerns to health chiefs over her behaviour.

His wife Catriona told the Daily Record: “Her whole story never seemed to ring true. When he started ringing alarm bells, she started to call us.

“Darren was being treated for depression but she would say that he had psychosis and that was why he was saying those things about her.” 

If you were treated by Zholia Alemi during her time working in Scotland, please get in touch on 0141 302 6097 or