In what will likely be quite welcome news to irritated consumers, authorities in the United States have broken up a $1.2 billion Medicare fraud ring [channelnewsasia.com] that has been relentlessly pounding consumer phones since at least mid-2018.
The operation consisted of
doctors, telemarketers and owners of medical equipment companies peddled medically unnecessary orthotic braces to hundreds of thousands of elderly and disabled patients.
The basic approach of the scam was to get a beneficiary to provide (or just verify) personal or Medicare information. Then whether requested or not, needed or not, they were sent medical brace after medical brace and Medicare charged for it all using the beneficiary's information. (Detailed graphic of the scam here [view-source])
Prosecutors accused so-called durable medical equipment (DME) companies of paying kickbacks and bribes in exchange for referrals by doctors working with fraudulent telemedicine companies for back, knee, shoulder and wrist braces that patients did not need.
The scheme allegedly involved the use of call centers in the Philippines and throughout Latin America, with proceeds laundered through offshore shell companies and used to buy exotic cars, yachts and luxury real estate.
Charges were brought against 130 medical equipment companies that submitted over $1.7 Billion in claims of which more than $900 million had been paid.
Authorities identified the largest alleged individual scheme as a US$454 million fraud run by Florida residents Creaghan Harry, Lester Stockett and Elliot Loewenstern, respectively the owner, chief executive and marketing vice president of call centers and telemedicine companies.
[U.S. Attorney Craig] Carpenito also announced charges against New Jersey residents Neal Williamsky and Nadia Levit, who own approximately 25 DME companies, over their alleged roles in a separate US$150 million scheme.
Lawyers for Williamsky and Levit lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lawyers for Harry, Loewenstern and Stockett could not immediately be located, and attempts to reach those defendants by phone were unsuccessful.
No doubt they quit taking calls from those not in their contacts list due to spam calls.
The HHS also issued an alert [hhs.gov] warning people of the scam.