The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice have worked with local law enforcement officials in 17 different states in the largest ever sting operation for the Medicare Fraud Strike Force.
Throughout the operation, 243 persons were arrested in their connection to Medicare fraud practices in cities ranging from Miami, Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana to Houston, Texas. The amount of fraudulent charges in these health practices equaled $712 million, according to Business Insider.
At a news conference announcing the successful operation, Attorney General Loretta Lynch discussed the large amount of individuals involved and the high costs of the schemes.
“These are extraordinary figures. They billed for equipment that wasn’t provided, for care that wasn’t needed, and for services that weren’t rendered,” she said.
In most of the fraudulent cases, Medicare claims were submitted for procedures that were not needed nor provided to the customer, totaling millions of lost dollars in the process.
In a written statement, the FBI released three of the worst cases of the investigation. For example, 73 participants were arrested and charged in the schemes which involved $263 million in illegal billings for hospice care, pharmaceutical products, and mental-health services. In the cities of Houston and McAllen, $38 million was uncovered, with 22 arrests occurring. 11 people were arrested during the bust in New Orleans, where another $38 million was handled illegally, according to the official FBI report.
“There is a lot of money there, so there are a lot of criminals. In these cases, we followed the money and found criminals who were attracted to doctors offices, clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes in search of what they viewed as an ATM,” James Comey, FBI director, said about the investigation.
The FBI report also revealed shocking information, including figures of previous fraud cases. “In fiscal year 2014, DOJ and HHS health care fraud and prevention efforts recovered nearly $3.3 billion.” The report also reveals that the agencies have recovered $15 billion over the last five years alone.