Federal prosecutors on Tuesday said they dismantled one of the largest health care fraud schemes ever investigated by the FBI, charging 24 people in a $1.2 billion alleged scam involving telemedicine and durable medical equipment companies.
As part of the complex operation, doctors got kickbacks for prescribing unneeded back, shoulder, wrist and knee braces to elderly and disabled patients and charging the government’s Medicare program, the Department of Justice said.
The accused “concocted an elaborate scheme to exploit the U.S. health care system by targeting Medicare beneficiaries, paying doctors for prescriptions, paying kickbacks and bribes, and in turn selling these prescriptions to DME companies to ensure that they could line their pockets,” IRS special agent Matthew Line said, according to Tut Underwood of South Carolina Public Radio.
Prosecutors allege a multilayered scheme to defraud Medicare. Call centers in the Philippines and Latin America advertised to Medicare beneficiaries and “up-sold” them on unnecessary medical braces, they say.