Pumped up 'dwarf' charged with Medicare fraud

A personal trainer and body builder who's 6-foot-3 and weighs about 450 pounds stands accused of bilking Medicare out of more than $535,000 by posing as dwarf who needed human growth hormone, NJ.com reported. Authorities charged Eric C. Opitz with 10 counts of healthcare fraud, three counts of mail fraud and seven counts of illegal distribution of human growth hormones and anabolic steroids.  

Opitz received prescriptions for human growth hormone for the treatment of pituitary dwarfism, the article noted. But he far surpassed the limits of that condition: Dwarfism is an adult height of 4 feet 10 inches or under, resulting from a medical or genetic problem, according to WebMD. Opitz said he didn't use any of the human growth hormone prescribed to him since he was "cured," the indictment states.

A specialty pharmacy filled Opitz's prescriptions for increasing amounts of growth hormones. He eventually received 8 milligrams per day, which is 40 times the recommended maximum dosage, CNN noted. Medicare Part D paid Opitz's drug claims after he obtained coverage by falsely reporting that his $950 per month social security benefit was his only income, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors say Opitz sold his stash of stockpiled drugs online without getting any information on buyers' medical conditions. He priced a 5 milligram human growth hormone "kit" at $450, NJ.com noted.

Opitz found customers through a Craigslist ad, which read "Do not wait, a lot in stock from pharmacy but it moves fast," CNN reported. Opitz had customers nationwide; but the jig was up after he allegedly made sales to undercover federal agents.    

Reported charges on Opitz's claims ranged from $11,552 to $21,173, and the alleged scheme ran for nearly two years. Authorities said Opitz faces a "substantial term of imprisonment" if convicted, NJ.com noted.     

For more:
- here's the NJ.com article
- see the CNN article
- read the indictment (.pdf)
- view the WebMD article

Suggested Articles

The HHS OIG is asking for an additional $23.7 million to support fraud oversight that has benefited from an emphasis on data analytics.

A New York surgeon was sentenced to 13 years in prison for fraud and more physician practice news from around the web.

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. government’s remaining fraud case against UnitedHealth can move forward.