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Patients say South Florida clinic took their money then ‘ghosted’ them

A South Florida clinic’s business practices are under investigation after several patients claimed they paid for procedures they never received and the clinic kept their money.
A South Florida clinic’s business practices are under investigation after several patients claimed they paid for procedures they never received and the clinic kept their money.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A South Florida clinic’s business practices are under investigation after several patients claimed they paid for procedures they never received and the clinic kept their money.

“It was a total of $10,000,” client Mariana Mata told Local 10 News of her experience with Xiluet Plastic Surgery in the Westchester neighborhood of Miami-Dade County.

Another patient, Amy Lighteard, said she had paid $2,500 toward her procedures.

The women said no one returned their calls after surgeries were suddenly canceled.

“I’ve been completely ghosted,” Mata said.

Patient Joanie Camden said no one from the clinic returned her calls or emails after the clinic told her she could not have surgery with the doctor she had chosen.

Camden flew to South Florida from Georgia to have surgery at Xiluet, located at 8396 Southwest 8th Street. But once there, she said staff told her the doctor she initially signed up for was no longer available.

“Everyone wanted him,” Camden said she was told. “He was being overbooked.”

She said the clinic tried to push her to have surgery with a different doctor, whom she later learned had recently had a patient die.

“There ended up being a situation that took place ... the death of a client that had BBL”, Camden said.

BBL is short for a procedure known as a Brazilian Butt Lift. In September a patient of Xiluet’s Dr. Stephanie Stover died from the procedure, according to Florida’s Department of Health. In a written complaint, the DOH alleged Stover committed medical malpractice by improperly injecting fat too far into a patient’s backside, causing the death.

Camden ultimately refused to switch doctors but says Xiluet kept her money.

“I want my money back,” she said. “This was canceled through no fault of my own.”

According to Florida’s Office of the Attorney General, at least 20 women have filed similar complaints, many citing unethical practices related to refunds. Those complaints are now under investigation and many of those women are finding and warning each other on social media platforms.

“I feel scammed. Like, it’s embarrassing,” said Lighteard. “It’s money I worked for. I work hard and I’m a single mom.”

She said Xiluet stopped answering her calls and blocked her from her patient account after she asked to remove one of her scheduled procedures out of safety concerns.

A refund and cancellation policy on Xiluet’s website states patients can reschedule their procedure a month prior to the surgery date at no cost and cites a $1,500 fee for same-day cancellations. It makes no mention of what happens if the clinic cancels the procedure.

Local 10 News reached out to Xiluet by phone and visited in person when no one returned phone calls. An employee would not answer any questions about the complaints or provide anyone to speak about the concerns.

But Local 10 learned some people have received refunds in exchange for removing negative reviews and signing a waiver promising to delete all negative statements about the clinic.

Mata said Xiluet canceled her surgery after she flew to South Florida from California and only returned her calls after she posted bad reviews online.

“She said in order for you to get your money back, I need you to delete both reviews. And I will be emailing you a waiver from our lawyer stating that you will not say anything negative about Xiluet” Mata said.

She said she was still waiting for the paperwork and had not received a refund.

“It’s modern-day thievery in the guise of medicine,” said attorney Andres Beregovich, who explained it often falls on the patient to try to sue a clinic for breach of contract, which is a costly and time-consuming process.

“And it’s something that ultimately, the state of Florida needs to witness and perhaps legislate,” Beregovich added. “Because at the end of the day ... this is a haven for medical tourism.”

At least one of the women said Xiluet did reach out to say they would refund a portion of her money. Florida’s Attorney General has previously fined two other South Florida clinics for similar refund practices.


About the Author:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.