The term ambulance chaser refers to an aggressive lawyer who pursues and represents accident victims in personal injury cases. The Lebanon Democrat & Wilson County News reports on a story about the owners of an ambulance transportation service who chased down a few victims of their own and submitted more than $1.2 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.

The article details that the husband and wife owners of a Murfreesboro ambulance service submitted false claims over a 12-year period for patients who needed transportation to their dialysis treatments, even though they were not qualified to receive these services. Court records show that the claims stated the patients were transferred on stretchers when they were actually riding in the front seat of the ambulance or in the jump seat located in the rear of the ambulance. (Why bother with real passengers at all?) Some claims stated that patients were transported individually, when in reality, more than one patient was transported at the same time in one ambulance. (Sounds more like a taxi service to me.) The ambulance transportation company was reimbursed for more than $457,000 for the bogus claims.

The 70-year-old husband and 58-year-old wife were convicted by jury on 39 counts including conspiracy, Medicare fraud, making false statements and wire fraud. They were also convicted on two counts of aggravated identity theft for using the names of the patients to submit false claims without legal authority. The wife was convicted of an additional count of aggravated identity theft for using a doctor’s name to forge and submit forms required for a Medicare audit. The husband received a sentence of six years and three months, while the wife will serve a sentence of five years and 10 months.

While these criminals were chasing down victims and benefitting from their deceptive deeds, the authorities were not far behind in their pursuit of justice. This case just goes to show that the government does not tolerate criminals who defraud the health care system. A collaborative effort between federal and state investigators chased this fraudster duo down and sent a clear message – those who commit crimes will receive tough penalties.

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