In an operation Federal law enforcement characterizes as the biggest of its kind, two dozen individuals were indicted last week on charges that they were involved in a scheme to defraud Medicare of over $1.7 billion.
Per Federal prosecutors, the charges involve an alleged conspiracy to pay illegal kickbacks and bribes in order to obtain referrals of Medicare beneficiaries to the defendants and their organizations who were marketing back, shoulder, wrist, and knee braces that were not medically necessary.
The conspiracy was vast indeed, say investigators, alleging that participants in it were located all over the globe. They say the scheme involved a telemedicine firm that operated call centers in the Philippines and Latin America where, sight unseen, doctors would prescribe the braces to Medicare patients. The call centers allegedly paid doctors to write unnecessary scrips for the braces, while the call centers sold the orders it derived from the telemedicine centers to the company that produced the braces.
Investigators say sales were brisk, with proceeds allegedly laundered through international shell corporations and used to purchase real property and luxury goods by individuals involved in the scheme. In addition to sales of the initial unnecessary braces, investigators say operators at call centers were encouraged to up-sell products, which generally included even more unnecessary braces. Callers were enticed by operators to buy the braces by offers of discounts on additional units.
Altogether, 24 individuals were indicted on charges relating to the alleged scheme, which investigators say consisted of $1.2 billion in claims. Included in those charged in this investigation was CEOs, COOs, and licensed medical professionals.
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