Some people head to Hollywood seeking fame and/or fortune. As reported by the Beverly Press, today’s “Fraud of the Day” subject set up shop in West Hollywood with the intent to seek fortune through a scheme that bilked Medicare of $1.5 million. (I guess you could say he came into a small fortune, but fame did not follow.)
The article states that for nearly two years, a man operated his fraudulent scheme from a durable medical equipment supply company that he bought with a co-conspirator. Together, they purchased the established business from the previous owners and listed a “straw” owner. (A “straw” owner is someone who legally owns the business, but generally does so in order to hide the identity of the real owner.)
The acquired business came with an established customer base, which included Medicare beneficiaries and doctor information. (That was easy. They didn’t have to work very hard to find their victims.) The 36-year-old man and his alleged co-conspirator used this personal information to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare. Evidence presented in court showed that more than $1.2 million in bogus Medicare claims submitted were for services that were not prescribed by physicians nor provided to the Medicare beneficiaries. The two also withdrew more than $600,000 in cash from the company over a six-week period of time. (That’s a lot of cash in a short period of time. I’m sure that action alerted someone at the bank.)
The defendant was found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to commit six counts of health care fraud and six counts of aggravated identity theft. He will serve just over 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and will pay approximately $994,000 in restitution to Medicare.
It is human nature to want more, but this man’s greediness drove him to steal money from hardworking citizens who paid into the benefits program. The criminal operated his company with the intent to victimize others in order to line his pockets with cash he didn’t deserve. It looks like he will be locked away for quite some time. (Perhaps while serving out his prison term, he’ll gain a better understanding of how his illegal actions impacted others after experiencing the loss of his rights and freedom.)