Phillip Milgram
  • Phillip Milgram

Scan scam. San Diego, not surprisingly, is in the middle of this one. In 1992, Los Angeles financier Bruce Friedman set up Heart Check America. “We were a regular imaging center. A doctor prescribes a scan, you pay at time of service,” says Friedman.

He sold it in 2009 to investors, particularly the Haddad family of suburban Chicago. David Haddad and his family came out of the resort time-share business. Indeed, the State of Indiana accused the Haddads of deceiving customers, and in 2009, a $470,602 default judgment was entered against the family, according to Pro Publica, which has been instrumental in exposing Heart Check.

After Friedman sold Heart Check, the company opened a San Diego operation. Heart Check changed its business model. Potential customers would be offered a free heart scan. But to get it, they would have to listen to a high-pressure pitch to buy a ten-year contract for $3000 plus an annual payment of $199. Customers could get bone-density, heart, lung, and other kinds of scans on a regular basis. “I voiced my opinion that this was a bad idea,” says Friedman. “Do I know what medical procedures might be appropriate five or ten years down the road? No.” But Haddad was a resort time-share salesman: “If the only tool a guy knows is a hammer, the only solution is ‘Let’s hammer.’”

Pretty soon, customers in the nation’s various Heart Check locations were complaining bitterly. They would pay money up front, go through the process, but not get their scans, or get scans their doctors couldn’t interpret. Karl Thorpe of Fallbrook heard the sales pitch. “I paid $3000. Then I tried to contact them to get a colon check. Nobody was there,” he says.

Last year, the Illinois attorney general filed suit against the company and the Haddads for using unfair and deceptive business practices to sell consumers the ten-year contracts. Colorado assessed the company more than $3 million for unethical practices, and not getting paid, turned the matter over to a collection agency. Nevada shuttered Heart Check locations. A civil suit was filed in Nevada, charging that the company drew up deceptive and illegal contracts in wooing customers. There has been a settlement with a bank that was a party to the contracts. Heart Check is named in the suit but is “insolvent and no longer a going concern,” according to the law firm handling the suit.

LifeScore clinic in La Jolla

LifeScore clinic in La Jolla

Back in 1999, a scanning operation named LifeScore Clinic was launched in San Diego by Dr. Phillip Milgram and another physician. “We had an electron beam scanner,” says Milgram. However, “I lost everything I ever made in life from the business. I got overextended. I had too much debt. People were not paying money. I had to close the business in 2009.”

Milgram graduated from a medical school in Guadalajara. He is in obstetrics and gynecology, and also specializes in laser toenail fungus removal. In 1999, he was disciplined by the California State Medical Board for “negligence; excessive treatment; failure to maintain accurate records, and incompetence,” according to board records. He surrendered his license. Then he lost his license in New York and Nevada because he did not reveal the California action. He got his California license back in 2004.

He claims his license trouble began when “My girlfriend committed suicide and at her funeral somebody wrote me a note” and threatened to “get” him. He blames the California Medical Board’s action on the complaint that person filed, but the charges seem too serious to have been generated by one individual.

Milgram was a clinical instructor at the University of California San Diego Medical Center from 1994 to 1997 but did not have a faculty appointment. “The instructor appointment ended due to lack of participation” by Milgram, and he has nothing to do with the university now, says a spokesperson.

“I have known David Haddad for many years,” admits Milgram. He says he helped with setting up the San Diego Heart Check operation. “They promised me I would be medical director, but I never saw one patient with Heart Check America. They felt they didn’t need a doctor.”

When Milgram’s LifeScore Clinic was in trouble, Dan Gallagher, also from a Chicago suburb, rode into town. “I terminated him after one month,” says Milgram.

Gallagher helped finance scan businesses with names similar to Milgram’s: Life Score Screening and Life Score Management. He says he was more of a passive investor and found out belatedly that David Haddad had been brought in as a consultant. “When I found out David Haddad got in there, I did my due diligence and realized it was a stupid decision.” Haddad and Milgram “stole my employees, stole my workers. They were telling my patients to go to [Milgram’s] LifeScore Clinic. I feel like a fool, like an idiot — I have been used.”

He says he plans to sue Haddad and Milgram. His attorney has written the Haddads, demanding that they cease and desist contacting Gallagher’s vendors.

Gallagher abruptly closed his two operations in San Diego. That left some scars. Yuri Delbruck paid $99 for a scan but never got a report. “The appointment was more like a time-share sales talk meeting, and we were there for three hours,” she complains.

Milgram says Gallagher tried to steal his business while Gallagher says Milgram and Haddad tried to steal his business.

This March, Milgram got financial support from an investor he won’t name and reopened the LifeScore Clinic at 4130 La Jolla Village Drive. He hopes to gain back the money he has lost. He offers low-dose CAT (computerized axial tomography) scans, ultrasound, and other tests, hoping to detect undiagnosed cancer and other tumors, coronary artery disease, stroke risk, plaque, and the like.

Many medical practitioners are skeptical of such tests unless a patient shows signs of needing them. But Milgram rejoins, “The way the medical system works is to wait to act until the patient gets sick.”

Haddad did not respond to phone calls. ■

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Comments

Javajoe25 Aug. 30, 2012 @ 11:28 a.m.

Scam Diego would be more like it, Don. X-rays, body scans, time shares, what's the diff? Just sign on the dotted line and everything will be better. Is there any area in life where someone isn't trying to put one over on you? It seems like there are con men ready to great you from the cradle to the grave. The fact that these guys prey on the elderly and those who are worried about their health, makes this even more slimy.

What gets me is these doctors could make a very nice living just doing what they were trained to do. But no, a lot is never enough for these guys. Seems like nothing is ever enough. Hail Capitalism!

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Don Bauder Aug. 30, 2012 @ 12:41 p.m.

There is a controversy in the medical profession about these tests. Many say it is a waste of money to have the steady tests if there are no signs that you need them. Others, like Dr. Milgram, believe that regular tests of all kinds prevent diseases. However, the proliferation of scams, such as Heart Check America, suggests that these tests are excessive. Heart Check set up displays in malls to lure in potential customers with promises of a free heart scan. But those who took the free scan got a fast-buck pitch for a year's worth of various kinds of tests. And Heart Check didn't deliver. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 30, 2012 @ 12:41 p.m.

They should sue Haddad personally, it is obvious from the business model it was an under capitalized scam, allowing personally recovery from Haddad and anyone else.

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Don Bauder Aug. 30, 2012 @ 12:47 p.m.

Heart Check itself went under. Haddad hasn't paid Colorado's assessment, and as far as I know hasn't paid what he was assessed in Indiana for his dubious resort timeshare activities. Neither Heart Check nor the Haddad family has been included in the Nevada civil suit; you can't get blood from a turnip. Haddad is now back in Illinois working for a security company. At least, that is the message he left on his phone when I tried to reach him a couple of times. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 30, 2012 @ 4:11 p.m.

Haddad has millions in personal assets, I guarantee it-go after him personally.

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Don Bauder Aug. 30, 2012 @ 4:38 p.m.

We're talking about a Haddad clan: mother, father, wife involved. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 30, 2012 @ 9:33 p.m.

I will check my research materials. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 31, 2012 @ 6:03 a.m.

LOL..NO I meant to name ALL the family members in a lawsuit-illgeal transfer, not bona fide.

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Don Bauder Aug. 31, 2012 @ 10:08 a.m.

Members of the Haddad family are named in actions by certain states. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 31, 2012 @ 10:16 a.m.

You can get plenty by googling directbuy + scam. Might check Ripoff Report. I haven't looked there. Best, Don Bauder

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Ghm1954 Sept. 2, 2012 @ 12:21 p.m.

I cannot say anything regarding anyone other than Dr. Phillip Milgram. The author was quick to find his "dirt" from many years ago but the lack of any recent similar type activities should be noted when a person has made hugh changes to improve his life.

Personally I know Dr. Milgram and he puts patient care ahead of money. He is current in regard to the medicine he practices. He at times treats people that other physians won't. I trust him enough I took a family member to him. He is a doctor who places patient care number one. Medicine is backward in my opinion. We wait until disease is advanced enough that sometimes serious symptoms become evident before they seek help. Why wait until an illness is so advanced a person is very sick before treatment is sought. Phil like myself feels proactive medicine can treat some of these fatal diseases before they are advanced.

Instead of saying its all a financial scam is obviously said by those uneducated in what we are speaking about. The patient who is saved from toxic chemotherapy because a scan found it early enough to treat it without these difficult treatments has a better quality of life. Dr. Milgram is a man of integrity who honestly wants to prevent disease. Those who write articles like this obviously do not know the Dr. Milgram I know.

Gary M., PA

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Don Bauder Sept. 2, 2012 @ 1:16 p.m.

Milgram agrees with your position: that these tests should be given before there are any indications that a patient is vulnerable, or showing signs of needing a specific test. He is quoted in the column saying that. Best, Don Bauder

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ladysmd Sept. 2, 2012 @ 6:42 p.m.

From Phillip Milgram MD God bless you, Mr. Bauder. I hope your article does not interfere with my keeping The LifeScore Clinic open; where lives are saved every month. Firstly, to clear up some of the misinformation in your article; I did not establish The LifeScore Clinic in 1999. Michael and Tabitha Wright did. It is my understanding that their clinic was very successful and accumulated almost 20,000 patient records until I took it over at the end of 2007. They were well-funded, and quite successful. I have been a student and promoter of Preventive Medicine, incorporating new technologies and evidence based patient centered medicine, early detection and Nutrition my entire career. We based the new LifeScore Clinic on the same principles as the Wrights: Early detection with low dosage CAT scans, plaque and cancer risk identification and education of patients to health, longevity and vigor.
I never practiced at Heart Check America. They were businessmen who, prior to opening, vowed to help me keep the Clinic open, then took over my clinic and went on without me. David Haddad is not part of my reopened LifeScore clinic, but we use some of his successful marketing techniques to increase our ability to reach more people and educate them on health, common diseases and prevention, plaque reversal, weight loss and nutrition. We offer a free ultrasonic (no radiation) assessment of the plaque in their Carotid Artery, and then we have a free educational program. There is absolutely no pressure here. If clients are interested in any of our health screening, or other services, they have that option. I am developing modules for food allergy testing, rheumatoid and auto-immune diseases, genomic, antigen, tumor marker; and altogether 22 new modules, not offered elsewhere, to detect disease at the earliest stages and refer to specialists in all areas when high risk or disease is detected. This is something not done in the usual healthcare model, but I believe that an individual has the right to know about his body, and to receive low or no risk testing if they desire. Then, when the test results are back, the patient spends some time with me going over their results in relation to their own health history. I do not charge for this service. Many patients elect to continue their relationship with me as their advocate in health, nutritional guidance, in a concierge type association, or as a provider of anti-aging and laser procedures; in which I have an expertise as a practitioner and educator for the last 32 years. This is not Heart Check America. This is The LifeScore Clinic, originated in 1999, and with an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau.

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Don Bauder Sept. 3, 2012 @ 7:18 a.m.

The column did not say that you practiced medicine at Heart Check. You said that you were to be the medical director there, but the executives there decided that they didn't need a physician. According to the information I received, and I corroborated, you were involved with the Wrights at LifeScore before 2007 when you took control. If that information is wrong, I will state that once I make a final determination. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 3, 2012 @ 4:28 p.m.

I was told by a source that Dr. Milgram and Dr. Wright worked together at the LifeScore that was founded in 1999, and Milgram took over in 2007. I always believed that Wright and his wife, also a physician, ran it, but Milgram was associated with it. I went back to my source who said Milgram worked at LifeScore with Wright prior to 2007. However, I could not find a paper trail confirming that, and unless I learn more, I will take a mea culpa on the point. Best, Don Bauder

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ladysmd Sept. 2, 2012 @ 6:50 p.m.

From Phil Milgram MD. Answering some of your comments on your blog; -I have had a small OB/GYN practice since 2004, which is finally manifest in La Jolla. When I was able to obtain The LifeScore Clinic at the end of 2007, I had hoped that my ability to expand my preventive medicine education to help patients would be realized. The economy has made this difficult. I had to close the clinic, and lost my home and declared bankruptcy. -I have not made much money at The LifeScore Clinic. As a new start-up in the last 6 months, I have personally made less than $3000.
-This is not Heart Check America. This is The LifeScore Clinic, originated in 1999, and with an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau.

“A man can not help what happens to him. The true measure of a man’s character is what he does with it; after the insult.” I am a student of life, and strive for humility, learning, sharing what I have learned, and service to others. That is how I practice medicine. Any patient with whom I interface knows that. Your article lumps me with the bad guys.

I would be so grateful if you could publish my treatise on how medicine should be practiced. I call it “Ten Suggestion”—Medicine to a Higher Level” (see next blog entry)

This is what I strive to be, Mr. Bauder.

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Don Bauder Sept. 3, 2012 @ 7:20 a.m.

What you say here does not contradict what was in the column. Best, Don Bauder

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ladysmd Sept. 2, 2012 @ 6:51 p.m.

Physicians and Medicine; To a Higher Level Ten Suggestions By Phillip Mark Milgram, M.D.

 Above all, do no harm. You as a physician are entrusted, at the utmost confidence level, with the awesome responsibility to protect and preserve the welfare of another human being. The art of medicine is to discern, at the earliest possible time, when to stop, and when to forge on. An additional stroke can ruin a work of art. But ceasing before finishing the job due to expediency, sloth, incompetence or self centered fear; are beyond the pale.

 Remember, you are foremost a patient’s advocate. But you must also be a partner for health and colleague to others in the healing process. This is the responsibility of the chosen profession of a physician.

 Medicine was and is the greatest privilege and the most excellent opportunity to benevolently make a difference in another person’s life. Accept this gift gratefully as a humble servant.

 Be tireless and unrelenting in the effort to help others.

 Medicine was and is always best taught as an apprenticeship. Always respectfully be ready to learn from another’s experience, be open to constructive critique, and have the courage to offer help to a colleague when it is the best interest of the patient.

 Never underestimate the healing powers of transference, confidence and the magic of unconditional positive regard. Seek to never impeach this power, as it is a great asset, along with knowledge and skill, in your quest to help others.

 Always be open to new or innovative methods to facilitate health, learn from healers of the past and present; and constantly seek knowledge. Have the courage to implement these methods in the armamentarium of care for your patients.

 Never underestimate the incredible healing power of the human body. But the body needs substrate, chemical and natural forces to assist in the complex biochemical processes of healing. Seek to find these in nature and in science; study and implement them in your prevention and cure.

 Prevention of disease is always preferable to cure.

 Always be cognizant of your human frailty, nurture yourself so that you can be a better tool for enhancing the human condition, and humbly seek to live to the higher standard of a trusted healer.

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Don Bauder Sept. 3, 2012 @ 8:29 a.m.

Yes, prevention is preferable to cure. However, one of the big debates in the medical profession today is whether doctors (often influenced by insurance companies and fearful of lawsuits) are prescribing too many expensive tests. Also, as in this column, there is debate about companies that are set up to give tests, whether or not they are needed. As in the case of Heart Check, some fast-buck pitches are used to sell such tests. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill Sept. 3, 2012 @ 4:59 p.m.

I'm starting to look into these types of tests somewhat as a preventative measure.

I'm not a doctor nor do I have any other professional or technical expertise in this area. But I think it's fair to say that USUALLY cancers and some of the other serious diseases can be treated and cured if they are caught at an early stage and USUALLY lead to fairly quick deaths if they aren't caught until an advanced stage.

I agree that the particular subject of this article seems to have pulled some snake-oil salesman techniques. I may wish to stay away from Heart Check - and look for similar sales techniques at other places.

But overall the scan concept - if it truly does detect some early tumors and diseases - seems like it may be well worth it. If I can spend $2000 and there is even a 1% chance that the test detects an early stage cancer I would say that's money well spent.

I'm really not going to inherently trust anyone on this one. I question whether the real scam may be insurance companies' refusal to cover any part of these tests. Is the insurance companies motivation ethical - either purely medical concerns (possible side effects from the scans) or complete lack of cost effectiveness of the scans? Or is the insurance companies' and medical industries' stance based on the fact that the money spent for these tests would be coming out of the insurance companies' pockets today - as opposed to money possibly coming from another insurance company or medicare years down the road?

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Don Bauder Sept. 13, 2012 @ 5:11 p.m.

Yours is the argument of doctors like Milgram who believe in regular tests. However, many in the medical profession think tests are vastly overdone, raising the cost of medicine. Best, Don Bauder

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maria52 Sept. 13, 2012 @ 2:57 p.m.

Personally, I worked for Lifescore. According to Haddad, he was the owner. I never even knew Gallagher was a partner until they split up. Gallagher, who I spoke to personally, said he was "the owner on paper" and Haddad had been the "silent one." He stated the reason for the split up was his discovery of Haddad's unseemly past." What he's talking about his Haddad's former Company, the nortorious Heart Check America, a chain of imaging clinics wide spread across America that is now defunct. According to articles in Las Vegas Sun, Colorado New, Chicago Tribune, and consumer site, "Pissed Off.com" Haddad had abruptly closed up shop, leaving thousands of people with no scans and unpaid balances for ten-year contracts of unlimited scanning, costing up to 7000 dollars. If they paid in cash, they were ultimately screwed. If they used Heart Check Americas financing companies, Care Credit (parent company GE) or Chase Medical, they fared better. Care Credit agreed to refund unused balances, while Chase Medical agreed to refund 50% of services rendered as well as cancelling remaining balances. However, Chase had to be sued in a class action suit until they agreed to do so. And both companies continued to send bills and threatening notices for months after the Heart Check Americas' demise.
The medical profession is polarized on the issue of scanning the asymptomatic public. Shape, Screening of Heart Attack Prevention recommends that all asyptomatic people in the age range of 45-75 become screened, which would result in the saving 90,000 lives and 21 billion dollars a year. However according to the Harvard School of Public Health false positives run between 80-90%. The US Preventive Task Force says screening asyptomatic people leads to "highly invasive procedurea that could lead to death" Personally, a friend of mine just had a MRI on a bulging disk in his neck only to discover, his carotid artery was 95% blocked and needed a stent put in muy pronto. He'd already complained to his doctors of "difficulty breathing and chest pains" which they had attributed to his COPD, not to a clogged artery.
Anyhow, Haddad wasn't an evil guy, he was just a businessman prone to unethical shortcuts. Gallagher is a liar about not knowing about Haddad's past. He only broke it off with Haddad because he wasn't making tons of easy dough. So, he cut Haddad out and re-opened his own clinic slightly changing the name from "Lifescore" to "Lifescore Screening," When he discovered he was making even less money on his own, he abrubtly closed up shop. Hey! He was only follwing in the proverbial footsteps of his mentor, Haddad. Now, all that is left is "Lifescore Clinic" run by Doctor Millgram. Haddad is long gone. Have no idea why Bauder focused so intensely on Milgram in his piece. He wasn't the bad guy. It was the greedy douche bags, Haddad and Gallagher that don't know how to run a business at issue here. I'll vouch for that, under oath.

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Don Bauder Sept. 13, 2012 @ 5:17 p.m.

I think if you read the column carefully you will see that I did not focus intensively on Milgram. It only looks that way because we used his photo. Heart Check was covered, and so was Lifescore Screening. Haddad and Gallagher got plenty of attention. Milgram was just one of the foci. Best, Don Bauder

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maria52 Sept. 13, 2012 @ 6:04 p.m.

well, i think you did focus plennnty on doc milgram. or else why would doc milgram so fiercely write you back? and i don't think bringing up past malfeasance very fair either. obvioulsy he got his license back...and, who cares where he went to medical school? he obviously passed his boards...you were just trying to cast aspersions on pro'lly the only decent fellow of the entire bunch. hmmm. doc milgram has a gynecology practice that has been attacked by anti-abortionist before...your boss is seriously pro-life...the reader has a reputation for discriminination against women...been called i believe, an "ol boy network" kinda place to work...hmmm

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Don Bauder Sept. 14, 2012 @ 8:21 a.m.

That is a grossly misinformed comment. This is the first time I have heard that Milgram has been attacked by anti-abortionists. I am pro-choice. Best, Don Bauder

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maria52 Sept. 13, 2012 @ 6:18 p.m.

you know, i can't help but think life is some kinda kafkaesque nightmare. okay, ya think the best way to expose corruption is to enlist the good guys to go after the bad guys only to realize the good guy exposing the bad guys aren't gonna do that 'cause they have bizarre agendas of their own...is life just some labyrinthian joke?

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Don Bauder Sept. 14, 2012 @ 8:23 a.m.

I do not think life is a Kafkaesque nightmare, but if you do, I won't argue the point. To each his own. Best, Don Bauder

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maria52 Sept. 14, 2012 @ 8:38 a.m.

I was referring to the piece you wrote. Didn't mean my whole life was a "Kafkaesque Nightmare."

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Don Bauder Sept. 14, 2012 @ 1:51 p.m.

I just wish my columns were as successful as Kafka's writings were. Best, Don Bauder

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unknownone Nov. 25, 2012 @ 7:10 p.m.

The picture featured here should NOT be Doctor Milgrams, but David and Lisa haddad, Daniel gallagher and Chris short! Dr Milgram is a GREAT doctor and very caring. The rest of them are just out to rip people off for money and dont care about anyones health. I used to work for lifescore screening which eventually split into life score managment and life score clinic. Dr Milgram never had any bad intentions and was scammed by the haddads, gallagher and short so they can work under his license, since they got fined in illinios and nevada for not working under a physician. David Haddad is the master mind behind all this scamming people out of their hard earned money. Daniel gallagher knew about haddads past-they had a falling out over other stupid issues. The reports given to customers (imt, ct scans and lab work) were all accurate results for a good price. The problem here is that the company shut down in a very unethical and unprofessional way. They gave no notice to patients/customers and alot of people had paid for services they never received yet. Milgram had nothing to do with any of this. He barely was making any money at Lifescore. Milgram was another person who got suckered into the Haddads scam. Daniel Gallagher was nothing more than an investor who invested his money into the wrong business. He could of done the right thing here but he left alot of people in the dark here when he closed down. The numbers were disconnected, and everyone was wondering if they were going to get a refund while in the meantime he was in the bahamas on a honey moon but refusing to respond or refund anyone money. In the end ALL of the ones who had bad intentions will have it catch up to them. I also, As an employee, was left with no job and no notice that I would be unemployed!!!

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unknownone Nov. 25, 2012 @ 7:41 p.m.

This is Lisa and David haddads Fb...Feel free to messgae them =) http://facebook.com/lisa.haddad3

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