Organized crime getting deeper into medical identity theft

Medicare and Medicaid fraud is nothing new--but the extent to which these programs are being bilked by hard-core criminal organizations is. As we've reported here previously, evidence continues to grow that organized crime groups are taking an increasing interest in the medical fraud business, notably running identity theft and false claims schemes.

For example, in Los Angeles, Russian, Nigerian and Armenian gangs have been bagged by federal agents, including the case of a Eurasian crime gang led by Karapet "Doc" Khacheryan, who was convicted with five co-conspirators in a $2 million doctor identity-theft scam.  In another example, Nigerians Christopher Iruke and wife Connie Ikpoh were charged with scamming Medicare for $6 million by fraudulent billings for durable medical equipment.

Another prominent scheme is to convince patients to be seen for non-existent illnesses, a common scam among homeless and poor residents of shelters on Los Angeles' Skid Row. Recruiters are known to buy patient beneficiary numbers, or pay the homeless to get needless care at bogus clinics in exchange for small payments. In one major Los Angeles case that broke last year, scammers at at least three hospitals paid the homeless to be hospitalized for non-existent illnesses.

To learn more about organized crime and public health insurance scams:
- read this piece from CNN

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