Weddings can be expensive. There’s the dress to consider, the rental fee for the most beautiful facility available and don’t forget the cost for the reception. (Thousands of dollars later, elopement doesn’t sounds like a bad idea.) Perhaps the subject of today’s “Fraud of the Day” story, as detailed in a Department of Justice press release, wishes he had not committed health care fraud in order to purchase his beloved a $60,000 engagement ring. (We don’t know for sure, but maybe the desire to impress his fiancé drove the fraudster to bilk Medicare.)
The press release alleges that for nearly four years, a managing member of a shell company and four alleged co-conspirators submitted fraudulent claims worth more than $12 million to Medicare through three health clinics located in Florida. The claims included kickbacks paid for radiology, audiology, neurology and cardiology services that were never provided. Some of the Medicare beneficiaries listed on the claim forms had actually died prior to the date of service. (Unfortunately, Medicare shelled out more than $2.5 million for the fraudulent claims.)
The 44-year-old man pleaded guilty to two charges related to money laundering of health care fraud proceeds. He agreed to forfeit a $60,000 platinum and diamond engagement ring bought with the health care fraud proceeds. He is scheduled to be sentenced at a later date. One other co-conspirator has already pleaded guilty, while the three remaining defendants will be tried by jury in the near future.
In this case, congratulations do not go to a happy couple, but to the Medicare Strike Force. This task force has been hugely successful in tracking down and charging nearly 2,000 defendants who have collectively billed Medicare for more than $6 billion since 2007. It looks like this relationship between a variety of law enforcement agencies has staying power and will soon be celebrating its eighth anniversary. Best wishes to those fraudsters who try to elude getting caught. It looks like this team will be tracking down and prosecuting those who attempt to take away Medicare benefits from those who deserve them for many years to come.