Scammers take advantage of Medicare beneficiaries in Chicago

Scammers commonly referred to as "marketers" are taking advantage of Medicaid beneficiaries throughout Chicago, offering cash kickbacks or free services, such as housekeeping, while billing for services that were never provided, according to a report by WBEZ Chicago.

Arlene Gregory, a patient in her 70s, told WBEZ she was roped into a scam after a woman introduced herself at a food pantry and told her that she qualified for free services. Soon enough, Gregory was receiving durable medical equipment and home visits from doctors and nurses, along with bills for physical therapy services that she never received. It wasn't until she told her regular physician that she realized she had fallen for a scam.

These marketers often target Medicare patients in low-income parts of the city, Jeff Jamrosz, a supervisory special agent for the FBI in Chicago, told WBEZ. Marketers frequent food pantries and soup kitchens, offering free services to unsuspecting patients, or simply paying cash to get them to visit a doctor and begin billing services to Medicare under their name.  

Chicago is one of several cities across the Midwest that has faced a spike in Medicare fraud, particularly within the home health industry. In April, the owner of two Chicago home health companies was sentenced to 10 years in prison for a scheme that stole more than $23 million from Medicare. Last month, seven people, including doctors and nurses, were indicted for a $6 million home health scheme that paid kickbacks to marketers in exchange for elderly and disabled patients.  

For more:
- read the WBEZ story

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