Faking It Didn’t Make It

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There is no cure for Sickle Cell Anemia, an inherited condition where there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout the body. (Some of the symptoms of Sickle Cell Anemia include swollen hands and feet, fatigue, or jaundice of the eyes or skin.) Fortunately, there are treatments that can help relieve the pain and prevent problems associated with the disease. A Richmond, Virginia woman committed Medicaid fraud by pretending to have the condition.

Today’s fraudster lied about her health to a multitude of healthcare providers – such as hospitals and ambulance services – in order to obtain benefits from the Medicaid program. She frequently claimed she needed pain killing drugs to combat Sickle Cell Anemia, a condition she did not actually have. (She preferred to receive a particular pain killer intravenously through her neck. Just thinking about that makes me want to pass out.)

In addition to requesting medical treatment for a condition she didn’t have, she did so under the identities of two different people who were actually Medicaid beneficiaries. That worked for her until she was ordered to have testing done. (After being tested at six different hospitals, her doctors determined that she did not have Sickle Cell Anemia. That put the kibosh on her scam.)

The 36-year-old Richmond, Virginia woman pleaded guilty to federal healthcare fraud and aggravated identity theft charges. She faces a prison sentence of between two and 12 years in prison for her scheme.

This woman was one of 412 charged defendants across 41 federal districts involving 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed professionals who allegedly participated in healthcare fraud schemes totaling approximately $1.3 billion in false claims. Of those, more than 120 defendants were charged for their roles in prescribing and distributing opioids and other narcotics. (This is one of the reasons why the opioid epidemic is out of control.)

To support her drug habit, this woman tried to fake her identity to receive painkillers she didn’t qualify for or need through Medicaid. (But, in this case, faking it didn’t make it.) The Medicaid Strike Force saw through her ruse and put a stop to the illegal drug use and the scam that stole medical benefits from America’s most vulnerable citizens.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Richmond Woman Faces Prison Time after Faking Sickness,” published on WTVR.com on August 9, 2017.

RICHMOND, Va. — A Richmond woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal healthcare fraud and aggravated identity theft charges.

Chermeca Harris, 36, a Medicaid beneficiary, misrepresented her health condition to health care providers in order to obtain health care benefits, according to court documents.



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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.