Federal prosecutors on Wednesday announced charges against 21 people for allegedly seeking to defraud government health care programs of $149 million in a variety of pandemic-related scams, including selling fake Covid-19 vaccination cards and submitting claims for unnecessary medical tests.
The charges brought in nine separate federal court cases are part of a broader effort by a Justice Department task force aimed at what Kenneth Polite, assistant attorney general for the criminal division, said is “rooting out schemes that have exploited the pandemic.”
Investigators used data analytics programs and tips to identify patterns that could point to fraud, law enforcement officials said at a Wednesday briefing with reporters.
In some cases, alleged fraudsters concocted new sophisticated schemes to take advantage of the pandemic, the officials said. Investigators from the FBI, the Health and Human Services Inspector General’s Office, and other agencies found instances of alleged fraudsters setting Covid testing sites to gather medical information and samples from real patients, to then defraud the federal healthcare programs. Others pounced on the rise in telemedicine during the pandemic to submit false claims, prosecutors said.