Isabel Paniagua comes to the appointment with a mask covering her mouth. After it hides wrinkled lips and the absence of teeth and molars, which only poke four screws in the upper gum and four in the bottom of unfinished implants. iDental took out all the pieces. Isabel, 57-year-old security guard, is one of the victims of the alleged scam of the iDental dental clinics, which left thousands of people with half-finished treatments, broken teeth or broken prostheses, after closing last June 14. The case is investigated in the National Court.
To the serious physical problems that Isabel dragged -for months ago she only feeds on porridges and suffers from jaw pains- the pressures she receives "almost daily" from the financial institution that granted the loan of 5,650 euros for her treatment. The financial operation was facilitated iDental as well as many other patients. When the centers closed, Isabel stopped paying the fees of 153 euros per month, as advised by law. On June 19, he sent a letter to Evo Finance requesting the cancellation of funding that was "exclusively for the payment of said treatment" that had not been completed.
On August 28 they communicated to him from the National Association of Financial Credit Establishments (Asnef), which manages databases (lists of defaulters) the defaults of companies and individuals, which Evo had requested "the registration in your file". "They do not stop sending me emails." In the last, of November 21, the company Cobralia communicated: "By express instructions of our client Evo Finance, has filed a lawsuit against you" for the non-payment. They sent the request as "the last extrajudicial management to avoid the damages and expenses involved in the judicial process."
Mode of action: IDental clinics offered oral treatments low costthat attracted people with low economic resources. One of the operations consisted of removing all the dental pieces and placing several implants that served as support for the prostheses. The company facilitated loans to customers with financial institutions. They assured them that the real cost of the treatment was up to 20,000 euros, which dropped to 20% because they had subsidies.
Closing of clinics: On June 14 the company closed all its clinics, which it had implanted in 11 communities. He left the patients with complicated treatments without finishing, with important sequels that many still drag.
The case reaches the National Court: In July 2018 Judge José de la Mata decided to assume the investigation for the alleged fraud of the iDental clinics for "the extraordinary volume of the cause", the existence "of thousands or tens of thousands of injured" distributed throughout Spain and the existence of a complex corporate structure.
Protests before Health: The affected ones manifested themselves in July before the ministry to demand the implication of the Government. They requested the recovery of their clinical histories, free legal advice and the repair of the damages.
Attempt to replicate the network: On October 10, the Crime Unit Economic and Fiscal (UDEF) of the National Police arrested ten people linked to the iDental scam, accused of trying to orchestrate another network to repeat the macro-state. Among the detainees was Luis Sans, who was the CEO of the clinics.
The case of Isabel is repeated in other affected. It is estimated that there were 400,000 in total. Given the attitude of some of the financial entities, the Ministry of Health sent a circular this week to the 11 communities in which there were iDental clinics. It warns of pressures and threats to patients, something that violates the law, because the collection is undue. Rubén Sánchez, spokesperson for the Facua consumer association, reports that they have filed complaints in the Data Protection Agency against entities that treat these people as defaulters.
Pilar Pericas, a 48-year-old nurse, has never set foot in an iDental clinic, but pays for the treatment of her brother Javier, who committed suicide on December 26. He suffered schizophrenia, but he was treated and with his pension of 800 euros he decided to fix his mouth in iDental. When the clinic in Valencia closed it was left with half treatment. He continued paying the credit of 3,800 euros, although "he had not even put his false teeth and could not eat".
"They pressed him. I do not attribute his death exclusively to it, but he always said that he had very bad luck, "says his sister. Pilar continues to pay 106 euros per month. He stopped paying five months. "They called me every day at all hours, including weekends and I had to pay 700 euros, with interest," he explains.
Banco Sabadell maintains that this debt is foreign to the closure of iDental, because the credit was requested directly from its entity. "His sister assumed the debt and iDental certified us that the treatment had been carried out," he says. Sabadell has 5,405 customers affected by iDental. Of these, 1,440 cases have been resolved with agreement and another 805 are in the process of being resolved. The rest is pending information to analyze the claim. "Our intention is to negotiate. Financial entities are also losers; it's a problem for everyone, "they say.
To the retired Jesus Martinez, murciano of 66 years, they also persecute him. His treatment cost 3,900 euros, which he financed for three years and left to pay 1,400. His teeth were destroyed and the prosthesis broken. "I had to go to a new dentist to eat something," he says indignantly. He stopped paying and now they call him daily. "They send me mobile messages and letters threatening that interest goes up and that they will put me on a list of defaulters."
Mercedes Andrés, 58, continues to receive calls and messages every day despite the fact that her clinic, the one in Zaragoza, closed in June. He came to iDental thanks to "a very convincing television campaign". They subsidized 76% of the treatment, which remained at 3,500 euros, with monthly fees of 87 euros with which he paid half of the loan. "I suspended the payments in April. I asked for the last two bills to be returned and then the pressures began. They even included me in the list of defaulters, "he acknowledges.
EVO Finance claims to have a specific protocol for iDental patients. A few months ago, they activated a communication channel with those affected and they have made themselves available so that they can cancel or continue their treatments in other clinics, they say. During this period the entity has temporarily suspended the receipts associated with these loans. "At the time that patients have redirected their situation, the loans are reactivated in normal conditions and will be subject to recovery practices always."
Antonio Montero, president of the College of Dentists of Madrid, says that what is happening is "unfortunate", but warns that users should read the fine print before signing. "In some cases, the financiers charge the patient full responsibility and wash their hands if the clinic does not comply."
José Antonio González, a lawyer specializing in consumer law, argues that financial companies are acting "outside the law", since "they have no right" to demand that users continue paying. "The consumer credit law says that the contingent contracts are linked to the treatment. If this is inconclusive or has not been done they should be null, "he clarifies. "They should be suspended until the judicial claims are resolved and they have the duty to return the money charged for the treatments not completed," he says. Remember that "many receive non-contributory pensions and can not afford legal advice and are scared".
His firm represents nearly 300 people affected in the open process in the National Court against iDental for crimes of fraud, money laundering, property uprising, injury, against public health, misappropriation, fraudulent administration and falsification of documents.