The Division of Justice announced costs Tuesday towards 21 defendants accused of collaborating in pandemic fraud schemes starting from making counterfeit vaccination playing cards to promoting faux homeopathic Covid-19 cures, allegedly leaving the federal authorities with greater than $149 million in losses, within the newest string of alleged makes an attempt to fraudulently revenue from the pandemic.
Medical laboratory house owners Lourdes Navarro and Imran Shams of California had been charged with conspiracy to commit well being care fraud and different offenses, for allegedly plotting to fraudulently invoice Medicare for over $214 million in lab checks, laundering a number of the proceeds via actual property and luxurious purchases, the DOJ introduced.
Navarro and Shams—who was legally excluded from collaborating in Medicare following prior healthcare-related prison convictions—allegedly submitted Medicare claims for pointless Covid-19 and respiratory pathogen checks, paying kickbacks to accomplices who obtained specimens and take a look at orders used to assist justify a few of these claims, prosecutors mentioned.
Nurse practitioner Elizabeth Mercedes Hernandez of Miami was charged in a scheme that resulted in over $134 million in fraudulent Medicare claims: She allegedly signed quite a few physician’s orders for pointless checks and tools that had been used to justify fraudulent Medicare claims for the good thing about co-conspirators, in trade for which she acquired funds for telemedicine consultations she by no means really carried out, profiting from Medicare’s relaxed Covid-era telemedicine guidelines.
Robert Van Camp of Colorado was charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and trafficking in counterfeit items after allegedly promoting a whole bunch of pretend vaccination document playing cards for as a lot as $175 apiece to consumers and distributors in at the very least 12 states, disguising his actions by referring to them as restaurant playing cards or present playing cards.
Three defendants from California and Texas had been charged with collaborating in an alleged plot to promote a phony homeopathic Covid-19 remedy and distribute faux vaccination playing cards, a few of which had been stuffed in utilizing numbers from precise batches of Covid-19 vaccines.
Different defendants included a healthcare enterprise proprietor who allegedly submitted fraudulent requests for federal Covid-19 aid funding that he spent on himself and others, a healthcare heart CEO who allegedly deliberate to submit over $1.5 million in fraudulent Medicare claims for Covid-19 checks and a U.S. Postal Service worker who allegedly designed and bought 400 faux vaccination playing cards.
Handed in spring 2020, the $953 billion CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was established to help companies struggling amid the pandemic to cowl payroll bills and rehire laid-off staff via low-interest loans. In December, the Secret Service announced virtually $100 billion in funds from varied pandemic aid applications had been stolen. Many alleged Covid-19 fraudsters merely submitted PPP claims utilizing inflated employees numbers and payroll bills. Others, nonetheless, concocted extra elaborate schemes: Canine breeder Luke Pierre Jr. of Florida was sentenced to 2 years in jail after acquiring a fraudulent PPP mortgage, $100,000 of which he transferred to a co-conspirator disguised as a cost for canine “stud charges.” Inside roughly the primary 12 months of the pandemic, the DOJ charged almost 600 defendants in connection to Covid-19 fraud, the division mentioned. Although a particular DOJ Covid-19 Enforcement Job Pressure was established in Could to analyze pandemic-related crimes, the division has operated a common well being care fraud investigation community since 2007, which has introduced Medicare fraud costs towards over 4,200 defendants.
Van Camp allegedly bragged to an undercover federal agent that he had bought faux vaccination playing cards to 3 Olympic athletes and their coach, remarking that, “till I get caught and go to jail, f— it, I’m taking the cash! I don’t care.”
“All through the pandemic, we have now seen trusted medical professionals orchestrate and perform egregious crimes towards their sufferers all for monetary acquire,” FBI Prison Investigative Division Assistant Director Luis Quesada mentioned in a press release. “These healthcare fraud abuses erode the integrity and belief sufferers have with these within the healthcare trade, significantly throughout a susceptible and worrisome time for a lot of people.”
$8 million. That’s how a lot the DOJ seized in money and different fraud proceeds related to Tuesday’s costs, the division mentioned.
“$100K In Canine ‘Stud Charges’? Covid Fraudsters Get Inventive Overlaying Up Theft” (Forbes)