Medicare fraud attracts organized crime

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If Tony Soprano were a real-life gangster, these days he might be scamming Medicare rather than running protection schemes or loan-sharking. 

Increasingly, reports suggest, Mafia figures and other violent criminals are moving into the Medicare fraud racket, bringing brass-knuckle tactics to scams that were once strictly white-collar crimes. Their arrival has brought violence to Medicare fraud at an alarming rate, with federal investigators being threatened and informants murdered.

Investigators say these criminals are attracted to Medicare fraud, rather than traditional rackets like drug dealing or robbery, because the money is good and prison sentences shorter than those for more-traditional mob activities.

Not only is Medicare fraud easier to pull off than standard felonies, it's easier to organize, too, observers say. While organized crime families typically invest a lot of time and energy building complicated management structures, Medicare cons can be pulled off by bringing on street criminals to recruit shady doctors and willing patients.

Best of all, from these criminals' standpoint, Medicare scams pay well, easily delivering $25,000 a day while risking a comparatively modest 10 years in prison, researchers note.


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