An Earful at the State Fair Leads to Massive Fraud


It’s always unfortunate to hear about crimes committed by those paid to uphold the law. The Citizen reports that a New York state corrections officer was paid nearly $75,000 by a hearing aid provider, for help defrauding the state medical insurance plan.

After a chance meeting at the State Fair (really), the corrections officer conspired with the provider to bill the state of New York for $1.6 million in hearing aids that weren’t medically necessary. Here’s how it worked: The corrections officer would solicit public employees – including police, prison and hospital workers – and offered them ”hi-fidelity custom fit earbuds and sound suppression ear plugs” at no cost. They would receive a hearing aid, despite not needing one. The provider would then issue fraudulent claims that falsely classified the devices as medically necessary, and requested the state pay out the maximum amount allowed under the plan – $3,000 for each hearing aid. The hearing aid provider paid the corrections officer $300 for each ”referral” he brought in, amounting to a total of $72,000 that the corrections officer used to purchase high-priced items such as a boat, a pickup truck and jet skis. (Wonder if he also picked up some earplugs to go with those jet skis?)

Ultimately, the corrections officer pleaded guilty to petit larceny and was sentenced to one year of conditional discharge. He also must pay restitution for the full amount of money he was given on fraudulent grounds, as well as a $500 fine. As for the hearing aid provider, who allegedly exploited approximately 500 state employees to make 575 of these fraudulent claims, his case remains pending.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on, ”Auburn correctional officer solicited hundreds of officers, others in scheme to defraud state,” a staff report published by The Citizen on May 5, 2016.

A corrections officer assigned to Auburn Correctional Facility and Upstate Medical Center pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor for his role in a scheme that prosecutors say defrauded the state health insurance system out of $1.6 million.

According to a news release from the state Inspector General’s office, Joshua Powers, 36, was arrested Thursday and pleaded guilty in Cicero Town Court to petit larceny. Officials said Powers solicited hundreds of coworkers and other state employees to accept hi-fidelity custom fit earbuds and sound suppression ear plugs for free. The devices were then billed to the state insurance plan as if they were medically necessary hearing aids.

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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.