Trio Allegedly Gave New Noses, Boobs, Tummy Tucks to Patients in $50 Million Fraud Scheme
You, too, can look like a princess. Just remember that tummy tuck was "hernia disc surgery."
Princess Cosmetic Surgery of Orange advertisement
Three people associated with an Orange surgery center that was known at different times as Empire Surgical Center, Vista Surgical Center and Princess Cosmetic Surgery ripped off health insurance companies for $50 million with medically unnecessary procedures for patients who were paid off with new noses, boobs and flat tummies, according to a federal grand jury indictment (that uses the actual medical terms for those surgeries).
Arrested were: Vi Nguyen, 31, of Placentia, who was a consultant at the surgery center now charged with 10 counts of mail fraud; Theresa Fisher, 44, of Tustin, another surgery center consultant charged with five counts of mail fraud; and Lindsay Hardgraves, 30, of San Pedro, a marketer facing two counts of mail fraud.
Each mail fraud count could bring a 20-year sentence in federal prison with a conviction. The trio is scheduled to be arraigned July 28 in federal court in Santa Ana.
Marketers or cappers allegedly lured patients to the surgery center on Stewart Road in Orange, where the recruited were told they could use their union or PPO health insurance plans to pay for cosmetic surgeries, something generally not covered by insurance.
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The patients underwent unnecessary procedures like endoscopies, colonoscopies and cystoscopies and--once their health plans paid the claims--they received free nose jobs, new boobs, liposuction and tummy tucks, according to the indictment (again, the descriptions are mine).
The indictment also alleges that in some cases the cosmetic procedures were also billed to insurance companies but, for instance, tummy tucks were listed as hernia repair surgeries and rhinoplasties (nose jobs) were referred to as deviated septum repair surgeries.
"As a result of the fraudulent scheme, defendants Nguyen, Fisher and Hardgraves caused losses to union and PPO health care benefit programs of more than $50 million in claims for functional procedures that were not medically necessary and in some cases not provided," the indictment alleges.
The government does not go into how the scheme unraveled. All three defendants posted bonds and were released pending further court proceedings.
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