A sham is something that is not what it appears to be. It’s usually required to commit fraud. The Courier-Journal reports on the owners of two bogus medical supply companies who tried to bilk Medicare of approximately $4 million in fraudulent claims.

The story states that the two owners from Florida operated the sham Louisville companies. Over a two-year period, they submitted false claims for patients who were supposedly treated by Kentucky physicians. (Court records show that some of the patients were actually deceased.) In reality, the patients had never seen the doctors. (That’s kind of hard to do if you are dead.) The claims also showed that products, including surgical dressings, were billed to Medicare even though they were never provided.

It gets more interesting. Investigators searched the two company locations and found them to be virtually empty. They discovered that the owners had recruited men to serve as fronts, but later transported them to Mexico to avoid prosecution. One woman, who had previously worked for the owners, testified that the fraudsters had chosen to set up shop in Kentucky because it was “virgin territory.” (I suppose that’s like being fraud pioneers on the Kentucky frontier.) She also stated her life had been threatened if she cooperated with authorities. Another woman’s job had been to serve as a “receptionist” during a Medicare inspection. (Sounds like smoke and mirrors to me.)

The 36-year-old and 42-year-old company owners were each sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison and are required to pay more than $1.9 million in restitution. They also pleaded guilty to misprision (that means to hide a crime) of a felony for taking the two former “front men” to Mexico.

The two fraudsters will be paying the price for their criminal activities. As they will soon find out, jail is definitely not a sham, it’s real. (What a shame.)

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