Medical identity theft normally occurs so that people can obtain medical care that is needed or prescription drugs but what about these women so desperate for plastic surgery they resort to credit card fraud and identity theft?
While some may shudder at the thought of elective surgery, many would jump on the table at a chance if only someone else would pay for it. In a new twist of identity theft, some women have found a way to make that happen. We’ve reported before on the increase of medical identity theft that threatens to botch your accurate medical history and ruin your credit but most cases of identity theft have been committed to obtain prescription drugs, needed or at least perceived medical care or money from fraudulent insurance claims. Have you checked your medical history lately? How about your bank account statements? Does either show that you’ve had or paid for a tummy tuck or other cosmetic surgery that you certainly haven’t benefited from?
Patrice Thomas of Lauderdale Lakes, Florida went to extreme measures to give herself an extreme makeover. She was arrested on April 9 and is charged with identity theft and fraud after paying for $14,000 worth of cosmetic surgery using stolen credit.
Last August the defendant applied for a credit card on line using another woman’s stolen identity. After receiving the credit card, Thomas obtained a photo i.d. card at a passport shop with the other woman’s identity. She used the photo i.d. and first credit card to pay an initial $9,000 towards cosmetic surgery including a tummy tuck procedure at Weston Cosmetic Surgery Center. She then charged the remaining $4,000 on another credit card that prosecutors claim was also fraudulently obtained.
Records show that Dr. Charles Messa removed excess skin and fat from Thomas’ abdomen on November 2.
How was the Tummy Tuck Identity Thief caught?
Federal agents discovered four credit cards carrying different names during a search of Thomas’ home in an unrelated case. The tummy tuck apparently wasn’t her first theft.. Thomas has a prior record for grand theft, drug possession and using false identification.
This tummy tuck fiend is currently tucked away in Miami’s Federal Detention Center on $100,000 bond. If convicted Thomas could get up to four years in prison.
Sound familiar? It’s actually happened before.
Last year a California woman used another woman’s identity to get not only a tummy tuck and liposuction but also a breast lift. The cosmetic surgery was scheduled last February but Londie Bowman only had $12,000 of the $20,000 needed to cover her body makeover. The thirty two year old presented a debit card to pay the balance and when the transaction was declined, she called a bank supervisor who approved the transaction over the phone for a Plastic Surgery Specialist worker. Bowman almost got away with it.
Plastic Surgery Specialists sent a get well recovery bouquet to the patient’s Martinez address but it was received by Maija Lamberts who said that her purse, along with her bank cards had been stolen several months earlier.
The identity theft trail may have gone cold there but Bowman called back for a follow up because her navel was itching. Police were waiting when Bowman arrived for check up and she arrested and received a nine-month sentence.
Eva Bennett, the deputy public defender in the case said “I’m shocked that for this kind of nonviolent crime that Ms. Bowman got this kind of time at the district attorney’s insistence.” Her client could have actually gotten a sentence of up to four years in jail.
We have to wonder if the newly implemented procedures stemming from the Red Flag rules would have sent up red flags in either of these cases to protect the victim’s from identity theft.