Beauty surgery glam scam exposed as skin-deep

Doc disguises cosmetic surgery as medically urgent in $50-million insurance theft plot

2020 Hall of Shame

Israel packed celebrity skin doctor David Morrow back to the U.S. to serve 20 years of federal jail time. He’d sliced and diced his way to an attempted $50-million defrauding of insurers for glam-boosting nose jobs and tummy tucks camouflaged as essential surgeries for damaging medical conditions. 

Insurance will pay everything, the Rancho Mirage, Calif., cosmetic surgeon promised his clients. Morrow’s scalpel swung like a samurai sword. He looted health insurers, falsely billing them $50 million. At least $25 million gushed into his bank accounts.

Yet insurance generally doesn’t pay to beautify bodies. It’s elective surgery. So Morrow disguised the plastic surgeries by forging diagnoses that his glam-seeking patients had medically required surgeries. 

Nose work billed as deviated septums

Tummy tucks magically became insurable hernia repairs or abdominal rebuilds. Morrow billed cosmetic nose work as fixing deviated septums. Breast lifts were surgeries to correct “tuberous breast deformities.”

Some patients were pressured to get surgeries they didn’t want in exchange for “free” cosmetic upgrades. Patients still believed Morrow played by the rules, giving them honest surgery and lodging honest insurance billings.

Morrow also dummied up test results, medical notes and surgical records to back his surgical fantasy world. In one case, he covered up the text of records for a patient’s “abdominoplasty” (tummy tuck) — hand-writing “umbilical & ventral hernias” on top of the original wording.

Morrow billed insurers up to $150,750 for a single cosmetic surgery, and as much as $700,000 if he foisted several procedures on a patient. Sadly for some patients, he botched their procedures. They ended up disfigured or were forced to live with pain and discomfort.

Insurers also were billed for fake surgeries. Morrow stole patient names, medical information and signatures — their medical identities — and invented records that falsely claimed successful surgeries the patients medically needed.

Insurance money and beautiful bodies made Morrow a wealthy celebrity surgeon. He called himself “One of the top cosmetic surgeons in the world for skin and facial rejuvenation.”

Bought $9.5-million mansion

Pinterest are a self-backslapping ode to status, wealth and over-the-top luxury living. He created his own line of beauty cosmetics, and claimed the world’s first laser face lift.

Morrow and his wife Linda spent their off-hours in a $9.5-million mansion, and rumbled the roads in a fleet of luxury cars.

Finally cornered and facing federal trial, Morrow and his wife bolted for Israel. Morrow was handed 20 years while they were in hiding. Israel booted the couple back to the U.S. in 2020. He’s now serving hard time, no small thanks to the California insurance department’s investigation. 

Which all shows that Morrow’s fraud scheme, like his cosmetic surgeries, only ran skin deep.