The MyChargeBack Blog

Nightmare Medical Tourism Without Leaving the Country

Medical tourism is a business model that is growing so fast that statistics can barely keep up with it. And not all the numbers tell a happy tale. In far too many cases, the patients end up sicker than ever due to poorly trained practitioners providing low quality products in substandard facilities. It’s one thing when these things happen overseas, but who would expect such a nightmare in Florida? Welcome to the world of domestic medical tourism.

When you hear about medical tourism it’s natural for your mind’s eye to conjure images of poor tropical or Eastern European destinations offering short waiting times and low prices compared to treatment back home. Depending on the clinic and the doctor (and luck), the experience can be wonderful, but far too often it’s just the opposite. Botched surgeries, the wrong surgery, severe infections, and even death are among the stories tricking back home from unfortunate medical tourism cases.

But did you know that the world’s top medical tourism destination is actually the United States? This little-known reality is the result of a number of factors. One is the presence of many of the world’s top hospitals and doctors drawing patients from around the world who can afford to pay for the very best. Another is domestic medical tourism. The U.S. is a big country, with laws, regulations, and prices varying considerably from one state (or region or city) to another. So just as a Texan may consider traveling to Mexico for treatment, a New Yorker may go to Florida. Some American health insurance providers even offer domestic health tourism as a way to control costs.

South Florida, in particular, has become a hotspot for all kinds of domestic health tourism, and that’s where many of the horror stories have been coming from. A few months ago we published a report detailing the scandals coming from the addiction treatment industry there. Some of the scams involved keeping the victims addicted in order to keep the money flowing from insurance and concerned relatives.

Now we are seeing news of similar shocking events at a number of South Florida cosmetic surgery clinics. These clinics, some of which are literally run by convicted criminals, market their discount plastic surgery deals primarily to African-American and Latino women throughout the United States, as well as in Caribbean countries. Upon arriving at the clinic, they are rushed through their procedure, waking up in the recovery room almost before they know what happened. Numerous cases of unsightly permanent scars and irreversible deformity have been documented. Needless to say, this is not consistent with the aims of cosmetic surgery.

But it gets worse. Some patients have been left permanently disabled or suffering chronic pain from their surgeries. Others have experienced severe infections, punctured internal organs, kidney failure, and shock. One surgeon forgot to remove a surgical sponge before sewing his patient closed. And over a dozen women have died.

The Florida state legislature has been trying to rein in the abuse for over a decade, but so far its efforts have come to little avail. Meanwhile, hundreds of women continue to suffer the ongoing effects of substandard surgical care. To add insult to injury, they paid thousands of dollars for the “privilege”.

If you are the victim of a medical tourism scam, it may be possible to get your money back. Contact MyChargeBack today to schedule a free consultation with our fund recovery experts.

Online Pet Scams

Here’s one scam that — if you’ve never run across it — you might not even believe how widespread and damaging it is.

A purebred dog can cost hundreds of dollars. Thousands even. So can cats, not to mention more exotic pets like horses, llamas, tortoises, and rare birds. While dogs remain the subject of the most widespread of online pet scams, all follow the same story line.  And if you have fallen victim to one, you know just how much money and emotional toil it cost you.

Typically, the scammers operate a website, often tied into ads on Facebook, Craigslist or Instagram. Their ads offer purebred puppies at prices significantly lower than reputable breeders. In some cases, they even offer the pet for “free” as long as you pay for shipping, vaccination, and other medical and registration fees.

If you respond to an ad, they will often attempt to sound above board by asking you important due diligence questions about the size of your house and yard, the number of children in your family, how often the dog will be left alone, and so forth.

Once they’ve gained your trust and you’ve agreed on a price, they will demand an unusual payment method, such as gift cards, prepaid debit cards, bank wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. What all these methods have in common is that they are difficult or impossible to trace and recover. That’s no surprise, since criminals like to avoid getting caught or losing their loot.  But the untraceable payment has the added benefit of camouflaging their location.

Where are they located?

Online pet scammers normally pretend to be located in the same country as you,  but far enough away to make it impossible to meet face-to-face.  Or at least close enough not to make the shipping of a puppy seem like a bizarre idea.  But in all likelihood your scammer is based overseas. These scams are usually run by criminal gangs in Eastern Europe or East Africa. Ukraine and Cameroon are popular bases, as well as Russia, Bulgaria, and Nigeria.

Once you’ve sent the money, the scammers may disappear right away. If not, they may try to squeeze some more money out of you with “unexpected” fees. For example, the fictional pet may be stuck at the airport. They’ll take advantage of your kind heart and your sense of urgency. For example, they might make you fear that the puppy is suffering and may die if you don’t pay the extra fees right away. At any rate, sooner or later you either catch on to the scam or the scammers feel they’ve gotten all they can out of you, and they disappear. There was never a real puppy in the first place. Or a real horse. Or a real llama. Or a real tortoise. Or a real rare bird.

There are a few simple steps you can take to avoid falling for a pet scam:

  • Demand to see their license from your country’s relevant breeding association, and then double-check with that organization that it’s correct, including the address, phone number, and email
  • Do an online search for the seller’s email address to see if anyone else has complained about them
  • Do an online search for the photos or videos of the animals being sold, since images are often stolen from other websites
  • Never agree to pay by any payment method that is unusual or hard to trace. No reputable breeder will ever demand such a thing.
  • If at all possible, demand a face-to-face meeting rather than having your pet shipped to you sight-unseen

Wellness Tourism Scams: Medicine for Healthy People

March 11, 2019

Medical tourism — and medical treatment in general — is limited by the fact that there are only so many sick people at any given time. Wouldn’t it be great if we could expand the customer base to include, well, healthy people? Welcome to wellness tourism!

“Wellness” is such a vague term that it can mean almost anything anyone might want it to mean. Basically it is the opposite of “illness,” so it can be more or less a synonym of “health.” But in the world of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), “wellness” has taken on a life of its own. In this philosophical model, standard medicine is focused on diseases and symptoms, whereas wellness is concerned with healthy lifestyle and “holistic” wellbeing.

In truth, every sane person is in favor of promoting healthy lifestyles to avoid illness and promote wellbeing. In practice, however, the wellness craze has created a market for medicine for healthy people. Nowhere is this more obvious than the burgeoning field of wellness tourism. People are spending over half a trillion dollars a year on this business, and it’s growing faster than most. Of this money, around $90 billion is spent by people whose entire purpose of travel is to engage in wellness activities. The rest, a considerable majority, engage in some sort of wellness endeavors as part of an overall vacation package.

But what are we even talking about here? What is a “wellness activity” with regards to wellness tourism?

It can be as simple as a visit to the hotel spa or a day trip to a hot springs in the midst of a vacation, but the big growth is in dedicated wellness tourism, often referred to as “retreats.” A wellness retreat is a lot like a regular vacation, but with much more emphasis placed on specific activities intended to address the visitor’s physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. These can be according to ancient philosophies, such as Ayurveda or traditional Chinese medicine, they can be devoted to various New Age concepts such as detox or life coaching, or they can be a mixture of various ideas. The visitor’s goal may be weight loss, depression relief, or more nebulous wellbeing or “reboot” goals.

Some of these retreats are found in the countries that have been associated with the relevant cultural practices for thousands of years. As such, wellness tourism has been booming in India, Thailand, Bali, and many other places. But it is also huge in the United States, Europe, and most other developed nations.

Of course, with such ambiguous definitions of means and goals, and with so much money being spent, the field is ripe for every kind of scam and fraud. These can range from grossly substandard facilities to insufficient or incompetent staff, and even dangerous, harmful, or abusive situations. Victims of wellness tourism fraud can find it difficult to have their injustices redressed within their home countries, and of course the situation is even worse for those who traveled overseas.

The good news is that you have MyChargeBack to help you. We are an international fund recovery service headquartered in New York, and we have recovered over $10 million for our clients on every continent. If you have been the victim of a wellness tourism scam, contact MyChargeBack today for a free consultation.

Dental Tourism

Do you like getting dental work done? Not many people do. In fact, lots of people have an irrational fear of going to the dentist due to the sounds of the machinery and pain associated with certain treatments. However, everyone knows that taking care of your teeth should be a top concern.

One of the main issues with dental care is the price. Many people don’t have dental insurance and treatments can become very expensive very quickly. Add to that the fact that most dental treatments require multiple visits to the dentist over a period of time. This all equals a lot of time and money.

For these reasons, more and more people are turning to dental tourism.  The significantly lower price can be a major attraction for anyone needing to have dental work done. While the financial benefits can be very appealing, unfortunately there are many issues to consider regarding dental tourism. Let’s discuss some of the risks and dangers involved in having dental work done out of the country.

Will My Dental Work Really Be Cheaper Abroad?

The quick answer to this question is yes. The price that you are quoted for the treatment itself will most likely be substantially lower than in your home country. This is due to lower salaries and taxes, as well as the comparable costs of insurance, rent, schooling, and even equipment.

Don’t get too excited yet. There are many more costs to take into account when deciding to have treatment done outside of your home country. Don’t forget that you will have to travel (most likely by air) and stay in a hotel or other accommodations. Additionally, it’s very likely that you will have to return to the clinic multiple times in order to complete your treatment. This will, of course, cause the final price to rise substantially.

Some clinics will try to finish your treatment in one round. This can be risky for certain types of treatments and is likely unprofessional as well.

Depending on the country you travel to, rules and regulations regarding treatment standards may be lacking or poorly enforced. Make sure to research the clinic you are interested in thoroughly. Check what safety regulations they have in place, what medications they use and who their dentists are and where they were trained.

Can Something Really Go Wrong?

Yes! One of the scariest parts of dental treatments is that issues can arise days, months or even years after the treatment itself. Therefore, you may have no idea if you’ve had a successful treatment for a long time.

Patients can develop infections due to inadequate procedures. If you have an implant done, the area can become inflamed and over time the new tooth can fall out. Other procedures can cause nerve problems and swelling over time if carried out improperly.

The materials used in your mouth are also of critical importance. For example, when you have a crown done, it’s important that it be made of porcelain to prevent infection. Some clinics will use plastic, to bring down the cost, putting the patient at great risk.

Dental Tourism: Proceed With Caution

The bottom line is that dental tourism can be dangerous, even if it saves you some money. If, however, you did undergo dental treatment abroad and the results were substandard, MyChargeBack may be able to help you get your money back. Contact us for a free initial consultation to determine if your case meets the criteria.

Medical Tourism for Senior Citizens

Medical tourism around the world is a booming trend that can be seen especially among geriatric patients. As patients get older, more and more health issues tend to arise. Taking care of these issues at home can often be expensive, with long wait times for professionals. Sometimes, issues are urgent and simply can’t wait, putting patients in an uncomfortable situation.

Medical tourism can often seem like a good option for the elderly. The availability of procedures, up and coming medical centers throughout the world, and particularly the lower price tag can make this an attractive choice.

Unfortunately, there are also many risks and potential problems in having medical procedures done abroad, far from home. In this post, we will outline some of these specific issues relating to geriatric medical tourism.

Geriatric Procedures Abroad: What Can Go Wrong?

Elderly patients look abroad for a wide variety of procedures. Specialized health care and surgical procedures are the most common.

Despite the seemingly attractive price tag, there are many disadvantages to flying abroad to take care of your medical problems. The first has to do with regulations in other countries. Some countries are lacking in legislation, regulations and enforcement. This means that there may be a black market for medical supplies or even organs. It could also mean that the procedures are not regulated and therefore the quality of care is unknown.

Another issue with geriatric procedures is that the elderly are considered a more vulnerable population. This means that they may be the target of crime or other scams while traveling, especially when still having to recover from medical procedures.

Travel can also be difficult for elderly patients. Long plane flights can cause other health issues. It may also be difficult to travel home while you are recovering.

Buying Medications Abroad

Another part of geriatric medical tourism is buying prescription medications outside of the country. In certain countries, medications may be substantially cheaper and even accessible without a prescription.

Be very careful when considering such an option! As discussed previously, many countries lack legislation in this field and therefore medications may not have to go through a testing process or they could even be counterfeit. The savings, in this case, will clearly not be worth it.

Do People Actually Get Hurt in Geriatric Medical Tourism?

The answer is yes! There are countless reports and stories of elderly patients traveling abroad for medical treatments and having issues in the foreign country or after they return home. These complications can be dangerous and often require additional treatments.

In the worst-case scenario, there have been reports of deaths related to medical tourism.

In 2007, an Australian woman in her 50s traveled to Bangkok for a tummy tuck and breast lift. She developed an infection days after the surgery, was readmitted (at her own cost) and was flown home very ill. She had a potentially fatal infection that required additional treatment when she arrived home. The original procedure was done at a private clinic, which was most likely non-regulated. Always make sure to go to an accredited institution.

Geriatric Tourism- Not Always Worth It

While traveling abroad may seem like an attractive option to deal with medical needs, there are many complications that can arise. These can threaten your life and also empty your pockets.

Before you make any decisions, make sure to do detailed research about your destination and clinic. Additionally, be prepared to spend more money than you anticipate.

If, however, you feel that you were scammed, contact us at MyChargeBack for a free initial consultation to determine is there’s a way to recover the funds that you lost.

MyChargeBack Does Not Recommend Investment Firms

Recently, someone reported to us that he was unexpectedly called by a firm called AZtrades, a supposed brokerage offering forex, CFDs and commodities, and told that they received his name and phone number from MyChargeBack. Given MyChargeBack’s reputation as the world’s most trusted fund recovery service, he assumed that was confirmation that AZtrades was a legitimate broker that is properly licensed and regulated in his country.  

It is not.

For the record, MyChargeBack zealously protects client confidentiality. We do not provide the names and telephone numbers of anyone who contacts us to third parties under any circumstances without expressed permission.

No less importantly, MyChargeBack does not endorse or recommend any specific investment or investment service, broker or brokerage, bank or other financial institution, be it regulated or unregulated. Anyone who hears otherwise can be assured that is a misrepresentation. First, our sole focus as a business is on recovering funds for clients who have been scammed. And second, it would be illegal for us to provide such a recommendation, since doing so requires regulatory permission.

If you have been similarly contacted by any firm and told that they received your name and number from MyChargeBack, or that MyChargeBack recommends or endorses them, we advise you to hang up and report the incident to us by email to our Customer Satisfaction Department at cs@mychargeback.com

Recycling Binary Options into CFD Scams

It took far too long, but binary options finally has the bad name it has so justly earned. Some people have unfortunately yet to be convinced, so the market hasn’t totally died out, but the crooks behind the countless binary options scams that inundated the internet from 2010 or so until early 2018 have discerned the sea-change and are getting out of the business.

Well, not exactly.

What they’re really doing is recycling their scam platforms in order to market them as different, allegedly legitimate, investment systems. One of the most popular of these is CFDs.

What’s a CFD? It’s a contraction of “contract for difference.” This trading model involves an investor (buyer) making an agreement with a broker (seller) in which one will pay the other the difference between the present value of some asset (gold, currency, public stock, or almost anything else that is traded) and its value at a certain time in the future (the contract time). If the the asset’s value went up, the seller pays the buyer, and if it went down, the buyer pays the seller.

For example, let’s imagine there was a contract for $100 worth of Microsoft stock with the contract expiring 24 hours later. If the value of Microsoft the next day were $110, the seller would owe the buyer his original investment plus an extra $10. The basic difference between a CFD and a stock, however, is that a CFD doesn’t involve any ownership of the asset. The investor is basically just betting on the trends in the asset’s value. In this way, trading CFDs and binary options is so similar that switching over platforms from one to the other was a snap. The con artists are back in business.

In fact, the new CFD scam is actually more hazardous than binary options. In the case of binary, the worst that could happen on any trade would be losing the entire investment. But if there’s a volatile market, contracting for difference potentially exposes the investor to losing far more than the investment, resulting in crushing debt.

Of course, getting paid assumes that the CFD broker is licensed to offer such investment services by your country’s financial regulator. But scammers are generally not registered at all, are not trading anything at all and are not located in a place where they can be easily found. All they are doing is stealing your investment the moment you deposit it. Understand this: they’re thieves.

Sooner or later the victim gets it, but by then a lot of money has been lost.

Have you been the victim of a CFD scam? And where is your so-called broker now? Bringing him to justice, if you can even find him, can be nigh impossible.

But at the very least, don’t you deserve to get your money back? If you paid the scammer with a credit card or wire transfer, it could be possible. Regrettably, successfully opening and winning a dispute in such cases is encumbered with an astonishing amount bureaucracy and red tape. The good news is you have someone on your side.

If you believe you have fallen victim to a CFD or any other online scam, contact MyChargeBack today for a free consultation.

Giving Love a Bad Name: Solving the Romance Scam Epidemic

It seems like for every legitimate use that people have found for the internet, a criminal industry has grown in parallel to fleece innocent users out of their money. One of the saddest (and most profitable) is the romance scam. It takes many forms, but the common thread is to take advantage of people’s need for love and connection to get them to part with their money.

Typically, the victim will be contacted either through social media or on a dating site. If the victim is male, the scammer will usually take on the identity of a beautiful young student. If the victim is female, the scammer’s fake identity will be a successful professional, such as an engineer or doctor. In either case, the story progresses very quickly from introduction to declarations of love. Not long thereafter, as soon as the thief thinks that the victim is sufficiently fooled, the requests for money begin.

These may take several forms. The “beloved” may need money for a plane ticket in order to join their partner. Perhaps they or a family member need urgent and expensive medical care. Or they are being held by criminals or corrupt government/immigration authorities that need to get paid off to allow them to leave the country in order to join the victim. Or maybe the mysterious love interest is actually extremely wealthy, but their million-dollar inheritance needs to have taxes or some sort of processing fee paid before it can be released. Once the money is sent, another excuse or emergency is offered that needs money to fix before the lovers can finally be united. All these examples are just the tip of the iceberg; there are dozens of variations, but the common denominator is that the victim’s emotions are manipulated until they part with as much money as possible, over and over, until they finally realize they have been duped.

Another approach used by online romance scammers relies on extortion. The victim is enticed into some sort of compromising position, such as sending explicit videos of themselves, or anything else that is illegal or potentially embarrassing. They are then blackmailed into sending money to prevent the information being made made public or sent to the victim’s family or friends (often harvested from their own social media contacts).

Eventually, of course, the victim wises up, but only after a lot of money is gone. And where is the purported beloved to be found? Good luck bringing them to justice. They are almost certainly in some far off country that has little interest in bringing them to justice, aside from the complex jurisdictional issues involved.

But what about the money? Don’t you at least deserve to get it back? If you are the victim of a romance scam and paid the criminal by credit card or wire transfer, it may be possible. Unfortunately, the process of opening and winning a dispute in cases like this is weighed down with an unbelievable amount bureaucratic red tape. Fortunately, you have someone to help you.

If you believe you have been the victim of a romance scam, contact MyChargeBack today to receive a free consultation.

The Plague of Online Pharmacy Scams

The internet has changed shopping habits to an extent and in ways that must have been unimaginable 20 years ago. Few would disagree that overall it’s been an immensely positive development, allowing people access to a wider variety of products at ever more competitive prices. A global marketplace indeed.

Online pharmacies (e-pharmacies) are just one example. Authentic licensed online pharmacies provide a wonderful service for people who are unable to travel to a physical location due to disability, illness, or distance. Many also allow a greater selection of choice or price compared to what can be found locally.

But there’s a dark side. The billions of dollars flowing across the internet have attracted every kind of criminal enterprise, and even helped to create a few new ones. Welcome to the world of online pharmacy scams. It’s a diverse and expanding world run by hundreds, or even thousands, of enterprising criminals.

One of the most popular sorts of online pharmacies (both legitimate and fake) is the Canadian variety. People, especially Americans, are often attracted to the idea of buying their medicine from Canada. On the one hand, it’s a developed western country and the next door neighbor of the U.S. with comparable laws and regulations regarding pharmaceutical products, while on the other hand their prices are much lower than in the States.

But when you go onto a website, do you really know where it’s based? Just because it says “Canada” in the name doesn’t make it so. In fact, numerous scam sites have popped up selling counterfeit medicine manufactured in India, Turkey, Southeast Asia, or other places. The site operators will typically have them shipped to a trusted country such as Canada or the U.K., then stick convincing labels on them before reshipping them to the customer.

And what’s really in the bottle? There have been countless real world verified cases of medicines ordered from online pharmacies that have been expired, diluted or over-concentrated. Or they contained none of the needed active ingredients, or were even laced with harmful ingredients, or were contaminated with bacteria.

Some of these sites were online versions of actual Canadian pharmacies whose operators were criminally profiting from shipping drugs purchased online that would never be offered in physical stores to Canadian customers. Other sites were completely illegitimate to begin with, in some cases with names and website addresses confusingly similar to well-known authentic ones, including major American chains.

Have you or a loved one been the victim of an online pharmacy scam? Aside from the ongoing health problems that it caused, don’t you at least deserve your money back? Unfortunately, the process of opening and winning a chargeback dispute in cases like this is weighed down with an unbelievable amount bureaucratic red tape. Fortunately, you have someone to help you.

We at MyChargeBack have the experience and expertise to guide a dispute to maximize the chances of success. And we have the tenacity to never get discouraged or give up on our clients. We guarantee 100% effort to get you your money back. We’re an international fund recovery service headquartered in New York that has retrieved millions of dollars for scam victims the world over.

If you believe you have been the victim of a scam related to an online pharmacy, contact MyChargeBack today to receive a free consultation

The Rise of Gift Card Scams

Throughout human history, one of life’s greatest riddles has been, “What do you get the person who has everything?” Well, a couple of decades ago, some enterprising retailers finally solved the riddle. With a gift card, redeemable for goods and services at your favourite establishment, you can pick your own gift and thank the giver later. Perfect, right?

Almost.

As with every other new invention, it seems like shady individuals have just been waiting and pondering how to take advantage of it unscrupulously. Welcome to the brave new world of gift card scams.

Some features of gift cards make them irresistible to fraudsters. Unlike credit cards, they are anonymous. On the other hand they, or the networks their information are saved on, store real monetary value. And also unlike credit cards, the data security on gift cards is often a bit more lax.

So what are the scammers up to?

Some of these people simply walk up to a gift card display case at the local store, take a few cards to where they can discreetly copy the information on them (card number and security code), then quietly return them to the rack. They are able to use specialized software to determine when the card has been legitimately purchased and activated, at which point the criminal is able to use his stolen information to spend all the money on it.

Another scam that takes advantage of the relatively low levels of security protecting the data on gift cards is the automated bot attack. This is a “brute force” type of attack by which a computer logs into a card vendor’s online system and automatically tries numerous random card numbers and security codes in hopes of finding a winning combination. According to some estimates, upwards of 90% of logins to these websites are bot attacks.

For the less technically-inclined criminal, a more traditional con has been updated to take advantage of the anonymity of the stored value in the gift card. An innocent person gets a threatening call from someone purporting to be from the IRS, police, or some other frightening government agency. The “mark” will be told that hey have an outstanding debt that will lead to very serious consequences if it isn’t fixed immediately. Then the scammer gives the victim a quick and easy solution: they can make the problem go away if the victim goes to the store and buys enough gift cards to cover the “debt”. The unfortunate prey then gives the trickster the card numbers and security codes over the phone, and the scam is complete.

So what can you do to avoid becoming a victim? First of all, always make sure you buy your gift cards from authorized reputable dealers. If possible, it should be a card that was kept out of the hands of others (eg. not hanging on a checkout rack). If not, at least make sure there are no signs of tampering on the packaging. And finally, remember that nobody will ever demand to be paid in gift cards for any valid legal debt. If anyone does, hang up and report them to the authorities.

Happy shopping!