RENO, Nev. – The search is on for Reno's "Botox Bandit" — the latest case in which patrons skip out on spas without paying for treatments designed to erase signs of aging.
Police said a middle-aged woman left Genesis Medical Spa in Reno on March 12 without paying more than $1,300 for Botox and facial filler treatments.
The woman said she had an important phone call to make and would be right back for her waxing appointment. But she was last seen getting into her car with California plates and driving off.
It was the third time since last summer that a woman left without paying for Botox services at the spa, which bills itself as the second largest provider of Botox and face fillers in northern Nevada and Northern California, owner Scott Seidenstricker said.
Last summer, other women bilked the spa for $2,275 and $1,000 on separate occasions after receiving similar services.
Reno police spokesman Steve Frady said the cases are under investigation but he could not provide additional information.
Elsewhere, a well-dressed woman walked away from a Houston clinic in February without paying for more than $2,600 in Botox treatments and skin care products. The woman said she had to leave to get her credit card and never returned.
In Phoenix, a woman left a spa in January without paying for more than $2,600 in Botox and other cosmetic procedures. When a spa manager questioned her credit card, the woman screamed and walked out.
No arrests have been made in any of the cases.
"I think it's becoming more and more prevalent based on our experience," Seidenstricker told The Associated Press. "This should put other practices on alert because it can and will happen.
"If they're obsessive-compulsive about aging and don't want to look older, some of these people will go to illegal lengths to correct this. If they can't afford it, they'll steal it," he added.
Botox is injected into a person's face to smooth frown lines and wrinkles. To retain the appearance, follow-up injections are needed every three to six months.
The same woman accused of cheating the Reno spa also is suspected of skipping out at Reno's Renovation, A Medical Spa without paying $1,500 four years ago and $150 last June.
The first time she told a Renovation employee that she needed to go to her car to get her credit card, but she never returned. The second time she slipped through a back door.
The suspect gave false personal information to both spas. The Genesis clinic took standard "before" photographs of the woman, but she told the Renovation spa that she didn't want her photo taken.
Seidenstricker said he's taking a wait-and-see attitude before deciding whether to impose stricter procedures.
"It's possible we could require payment before services," he said.
The Renovation spa already is taking steps as a precaution, business manager Tamera Pitts said.
"They won't be able to walk out of the office unless they leave a purse or something of value. And we're doing the best to keep people from going out the back door," Pitts said.
Linda Lewis, executive editor of Medesthetics, a business magazine that serves more than 17,000 physicians offering medical aesthetic services such as Botox injections, said she was unaware of the problem.
"None of the doctors I work with has mentioned this problem," she wrote in an e-mail message. Similar cases have been reported in Portola, Calif., in March; in Tampa, Fla., last August; in San Antonio, Texas, in October 2006; and in Phoenix in March 2006.