Linswritings

Largest Medicare scam busted

Posted on: October 15, 2010

Who would think that a network of Armenian gangsters and their associates would be involved in the largest Medicare scam? Recently, federal prosecutors in New York, Los Angeles, New Mexico, Georgia and Ohio arrested 73 people in raids.

According to U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara, this Medicare scam was so sophisticated that it put the traditional Mafia to shame. They ran a veritable fraud franchise. In addition, the whole operation was under the protection of an Armenian crime boss.

Here is how the Medicare scam happened. The investigation started in New York where 2,900 Medicare patients claimed their identity was stolen. This included their Social Security numbers and dates of birth. Then the fraud ring stole the identities of doctors and set up 118 phantom clinics in 25 states. The names were used to submit fake bills for care that was never given.

However, some of the phony paperwork was a giveaway: It showed eye doctors doing bladder tests; ear, nose and throat specialists performing pregnancy ultrasounds; obstetricians testing for skin allergies; and dermatologists billing for heart exams.

In the New York alone more than $100 million in fraudulent bills were submitted and Medicare paid out at least $35 million, sometimes by wiring it to the clinics’ banks accounts. .

Most of the defendants were Armenian nationals or immigrants. They maintained substantial ties to Armenia and criminals living there. Couriers would often carry cash proceeds from the fraud back to Armenia.

Prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of real estate in Las Vegas; Palm Springs, Calif.; and other areas in the U.S. In addition, prosecutors are also seeking forfeiture of a 2007 Maserati and a 2006 Jaguar.

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