COVID Feature: Sometimes, It’s Better to be Last

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Most of the time, it’s great to be first because it means you’re really good at time management or you’re the best at something. (For instance, you’re first in line at Walmart on Black Friday or your team wins the Super Bowl. Essentially, you have bragging rights either way.) On the other hand, it’s not always best to be the first person in your country to be charged with misappropriating government funds designed for COVID medical provider relief. (That is definitely not something to brag about.) 

Amina Abbas, of Taylor, Mich., is charged with embezzlement of government property. Abbas, who previously owned and operated 1 on 1 Home Health (1 on 1), received approximately $37,656.95 from Medicare to cover the medical treatment and care of COVID-19 patients. (There was just one tiny problem.)

Abbas closed the business in early 2020 prior to the pandemic because Medicare issued an overpayment demand for $1,619,967.08. (The patients didn’t qualify for home health services.) The Michigan woman allegedly misappropriated the government health benefits by using them for her own personal expenses. (She shared the wealth with her family members by issuing checks. How kind of her to do so.)

It’s important to remember that an indictment is just an allegation and Abbas is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Although, if convicted this woman will go down in history as the first to be found guilty of intentionally misusing funds intended to provide relief to health care providers and to maintain access to medical care during the Coronavirus pandemic. (Would you want to be remembered for taking money that was set aside to help fellow Americans get critical medical care during a global health and economic crisis? Uh, no.)

This is just one of many cases we will likely hear about as more COVID-19 fraud cases are investigated. If you have any information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Woman First in the Nation Charged with Misappropriating Monies Designed for COVID Medical Provider Relief,” dated February 11, 2021.

A Michigan woman was indicted on allegations that she intentionally misappropriated government funds that were designed to aid medical providers in the treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19 and used them for her own personal expenses.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Lamont Pugh III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Chicago Region and Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office made the announcement.

 

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.