GASTONIA, N.C. — A Gastonia woman said a surgery she never had left her $10,000 in debt and with a huge ding on her credit report. She claims a Miami-based company opened a line of credit in her name without her permission.
Channel 9 investigative reporter Madison Carter learned she’s not the only one.
“There was two charges, one one day and one the next. Two different charges. One for $4,501 one for $5,500,” Angela Sistrunk told Carter.
Sistrunk would never have known about those two charges if the bank hadn’t given her a call.
“The bank called me and said I needed to make two payments and I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’” Sistrunk said.
She was looking into having some scars removed and, through a friend, found CG Cosmetics in Miami.
“I knew nothing about this place,” she said. “It was completely a call inquiring, and it went from a call inquiring to ‘I could get you preapproved for a card and you can use it when you want to.’”
She said a woman asked for personal information and said it was to submit a pre-approval application with Alphaeon, a credit lender.
“I figured when you get preapproved, you swipe the card when you’re ready to pay for it,” Sistrunk said.
But she said the full amount of a procedure she never had was charged and paid out to CG Cosmetics.
In documents Carter obtained from Florida’s attorney general office, she learned CG Cosmetics was already being monitored for deceptive business practices, including allegations they failed to disclose terms of a transaction, did not get express consent to charge cards, and failed to return customers’ money.
In a voluntary agreement with the attorney general, CG Cosmetics agreed to stop deceptive practices and refund more than $270,000 to customers. This was all before Sistrunk fell victim to the same thing.
Two months ago, the surgery charge showed up on Sistrunk’s credit report. Despite calls, emails, and text messages to the practice, it refused to refund her money, so Carter decided to give them a call.
A woman admitted the charges were a mistake, but put some of the responsibility back on Sistrunk for signing what the representative told her was a pre-authorization.
“So are patients typically charged before they agree to a consultation?” Carter asked.
“No,” the representative said.
“It’s obviously a mistake from both sides. At the end, she shouldn’t have signed that when she wasn’t completely sure yet,” she added.
“Because at the end, she was giving us the authorization to sign it. So it’s a it’s a two-fold operation,” she said.
After Action 9 got involved, Angela Sistrunk got $9,000 back, but she said the remaining balance is impacting her credit. She’s filed a complaint with Florida’s attorney general. If the AG finds her complaint has merit, CG Cosmetics could face a nearly $1 million penalty for violating its agreement again.
The attorney general’s office sent Carter the following statement:
“We are seeking additional information from the company about the final 10% of the consumer’s refund, and we will continue to actively monitor Respondents’ compliance with the terms and conditions of the AVC. Consumers can file complaints with our office by calling 1(866)9NO-SCAM or by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com.”
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