Doctors need to watch for internal and external fraud threats

Doctors should watch for red flags to catch fraud and embezzlement.

‘Tis the season, says attorney Ike Devji. Not only for holiday parties and gift-giving, but for fraud and embezzlement, Devji warns.

Doctors are vulnerable to both internal and external fraud threats at the end of the year, writes Devji, an asset protection lawyer based in Phoenix, in Physicians Practice.

He lists a number of internal financial fraud schemes to watch out for, such as employees intentionally overpaying a legitimate invoice to generate refunds from vendors they then divert into their own account, to failing to record cash payments and pocketing the money. And at the end of the year, thieves outside the practice can take advantage of the large volume of incoming bills and invoices to submit false bills, he says.

Just yesterday an office manager of a doctor's office in Colorado Springs was charged with stealing almost $800,000 during a four-year period. The federal indictment states that she regularly used the doctors’ office credit card and bank accounts for her own purposes, which she concealed in the office’s financial records, The Pueblo Chieftain reports

Devji says there are red flags to look for, such as invoices from known or unknown vendors and bills from out of state or out of the country for goods and services delivered locally. Watch out for calls, emails or letters asking for updated payment or credit card information, he says, as well as bills, correspondence and websites with serious grammatical and spelling errors.