SAVANNAH, GA: The third in a nationwide series of telemedicine fraud prosecutions includes cases in the Southern District of Georgia identifying more than $1.5 billion in fraudulent billings to government healthcare insurance programs.
The takedown – dubbed Operation Rubber Stamp, and following two similar nationwide Department of Justice initiatives in 2019 – brings prosecution totals up to 30 defendants now charged in the Southern District of Georgia, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The cases were announced in a joint news conference with District of South Carolina U.S. Attorney Peter M. McCoy.
At its core, this criminal network targeted by these investigations involves individuals and companies that collect patient data and sell it to one or more durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers, pharmacies, or labs. Patients often were lured into the scheme by an international telemarketing network and the co-conspirators promise of often inappropriate durable medical equipment, test results, and medication misled patients and delayed their chance to seek appropriate treatment for medical complaints. As part of these schemes, defendant telemedicine executives allegedly paid doctors and nurse practitioners to order unnecessary durable medical equipment, genetic and other diagnostic testing, and pain medications, either without any patient interaction or with only a brief telephonic conversation with patients they had never met or seen. Durable medical equipment companies, genetic testing laboratories, and pharmacies then purchased those orders in exchange for illegal kickbacks and bribes and submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and other government insurers. ….