Surgical Scams

Cosmetic Surgery

Medical tourism focusing on cosmetic surgery developed in response to the cost savings.  The most common of these procedures include breast implantations, facelifts, tummy-tucks, butt-lifts, nose jobs (rhinoplasty and septoplasty), liposuction, and dental reconstruction.

The same procedure in Colombia or Brazil, for example, can cost anywhere between one-half and one-third of what it would cost in the United States.  As to be expected, the best bargains are available at jerrybuilt clinics in which woefully inexperienced plastic surgeons (or even unlicensed ones) operate.

Apart from a less-than-satisfactory result from the surgery, complications can begin immediately after discharge in the event follow-up treatments are required and the patient does not receive them.  Complications may include bleeding, blood clots, fluid accumulation, infections, numbness, scarring, skin discoloration, skin loss, and swelling.  In addition, a premature flight back home might result in a deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.  Patients should be warned to wait at least a week to 10 days before boarding a plane.

Transplant Surgery

In most countries, the demand for vital organs for transplant has always been higher than the supply.  That simple fact created an open market for transplant tourism.  Since the alternative to a transplant is inevitably rapid deterioration and death, many patients will grasp at any opportunity available.  Scammers take advantage of that.

Where do the transplanted organs come from?

To meet demand (but first and foremost to cash in on the profit that can be pocketed from transplant candidates with terminal diseases), an international underground has emerged that supplies organs from a number of dubious sources.  China, for example, has been accused of harvesting organs from convicted prisoners sentenced to capital punishment after they have been killed.

Poverty in Pakistan has led to an almost endless number of people willing to see their kidneys.  In India, Brazil, the Philippines and a number of other countries, major black markets exist, fueled by brokers who pay volunteers in shantytowns a pittance for their kidneys.  These kidneys tend to be harvested under unsterile conditions in unlicensed, back-room substitutes for operating theaters.  A widely reported practice is undergo the actual transplant in to third countries like Turkey, Kosovo and Azerbaijan, after the kidney has been smuggled in.  This sub-standard procedure has been known to lead to infections in transplant recipients, and even death.

Cases have even been uncovered in which organs have been smuggled in to the United States and other Western countries for transplant under clinically acceptable conditions in legitimate hospitals.

Mention should also be made of a completely different kind of transplant scam.  On occasion, spam e-mails and social media posts have spoofed real hospitals claiming to offer cash for organ donations.  This is a phishing scam designed only to obtain the contact information of those who reply in order to commit identity theft.  Legitimate transplant programs do not pay for organs. 

If you think you have been victimized by a surgical scam, consult with our fund recovery experts at MyChargeBack.