As a people, we hope that the government programs that have been in place to protect and serve us will do just that. What we don’t expect, however, is that a ring of criminals will be able to defraud a system that most Americans can’t even access properly for $35 million. That’s what happened earlier this week when an Armenian-American crime ring defrauded Medicare for $35 million with the help of stolen patient and doctor identity records. The crooks took these identities and used them to file over $100 million worth of false claims to Medicare for clinics around the country that didn’t even exist.
Similar fraud cases have plagued the government since its inception. One such case was that of Sholam Weiss, a man who stole nearly $125 million from the National Heritage Insurance Company and eventually causing its collapse. He was sentenced to 845 years in prison and is currently trying to appeal his sentence. Weiss fled the country to Brazil while on the lam and was eventually caught in Austria where, despite drastic physical change, he was captured and sent back to the U.S..
Another infamous case of fraud is that of Dr. Andrew Cubria. This doctor performed hundreds of unnecessary operations that were potentially fatal to his victims in order to make claims with insurance and collect millions. The procedures were performed on perfectly healthy patients and often came with complications that changed the patient’s life forever after the fact. The doctor would perform the operations then file with Medicare for reimbursement, making himself rich at the expense of the government.
Yet another fraud that raked in the dough is Charles Gavett. His case is more famous for bad taste than it is for fraud, but anyhow. When the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon shook the foundations of our country, Gavett claimed that his wife had perished in the tragedy. The couple, who lived in a small community, hoped to scam their life insurance company for the $200, 000 plan that was taken out on his wife. The plan was brought to light when neighbors reported seeing the supposedly dead wife walking around their home.
While all of these cases have made headlines, it is in the best interest of the people to pay attention. While you may think that you won’t fall prey to any of these scams or others like them, there is always someone out there willing to take what isn’t theirs just to make a buck.
Michael Rothfield, Medicare Scheme Netted $35 Million, Officials Say, online.wsj.com
Associated Press, Sholam Weiss Appeals 845-year Sentence for Life Insurance Plot, investmentnews.com
James Quiggle, Heartless Heart Doc Sticks it to Patients, insurancefraud.org
James Quiggle, Fraud Hall of Shame: Another Day at the Office Hall showcases Tragedy, Comedy and Outrage of Scams, insurancefraud.org