Cosmetic Surgery Larceny

Today The Orange County Register reported the surrender of the “Big Busted Bandit  ” to the police.  Allegedly she stole a breast enlargement surgery through identity theft.   She was tracked down through her implant manufacturer serial numbers, according to the paper.   It makes sense that with the advent of relatively inexpensive cosmetic medicine procedures popping up in some retail settings rather than established clinics and hospitals, this kind of thing has become more “popular.”   I am sure that difficult economic times have played a role as well.

Cosmetic surgery larceny is nothing new.     I first saw this occur in my practice some 20 years ago.   A breast enlargement patient stopped payment on her check, on the very afternoon after having surgery.   I was unable to re-collect the fee even though I tried.   A difficult and expensive lesson to learn as a new plastic surgeon in practice.

All goods and services including cosmetic surgery and cosmetic medicine are at risk for theft.   Most long standing plastic surgery practices have been victims at some level and recognize the risk.  Measures  are often taken to reduce the risk of this type of fraud.  Requiring prepayment by 7-10 days if paying by check is a common practice and credit card payments may also be limited, as these charges can be contested by less than honorable patients.  The last responsibility  needed by a physician is chasing after a fee!

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