Permission Slip for Fraud

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Permission slips come in different forms. Schools require them so that children can visit the local zoo on their class trip. Doctors request a signature from a patient getting the flu shot stating there are no allergies to the vaccine about to be administered. An article published in The Boston Globe details how a job applicant’s personal information was used without her permission to bill government agencies for services that she did not provide as a psychologist.

The story states that a set of twin sisters ran two separate mental health services companies that provided psychological exams. They are accused of billing Medicaid and Medicare for more than $490,000; the University of Massachusetts Medical School for $30,000 in disability evaluations; and a local Massachusetts public school system for more than $60,000 in psychological evaluations for special-needs students.

Authorities say these two women allegedly carried out the scheme by stealing and using the personal identification information of multiple victims, who happened to be legitimate psychologists. (One psychologist provided her personal identification information while considering a job opportunity at one of the mental health companies.) The two women purportedly provided mental health services to clients despite the fact they were not licensed to do so, and allegedly netted more than $580,000 from federal and state agencies.

The two are currently facing charges including submitting false Medicaid claims, false claims to a public agency, larceny, identity fraud and the unlicensed practice of psychology. The sisters have been arraigned and have pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges.

It is important to remember that the 49-year-old twins are innocent until proven guilty. Regardless of the outcome, the case is instructive because the claims made by prosecutors about stolen personal identity information being used for fraudulent purposes apply to nearly any government benefits fraud scenario. We have all provided our personal information hundreds of times – in doctor’s offices, at school, in housing rental applications, or job applications…just to name a few. It’s time to start asking how that information is being protected in the locations where we are providing them and by the government agencies that are processing identity information.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Twin Sisters Charged in Medical Fraud Case,” written by Travis Anderson and published in The Boston Globe on September 16, 2014.

Twin sisters who used to live in Burlington will be arraigned Tuesday on charges of stealing more than $580,000 from state and federal agencies in an alleged scheme that involved identity fraud and conducting unlicensed psychological exams, prosecutors said.

The sisters, Nita Guzman and Nina Tischer, both 49, provided mental health services between 2008 and 2012 through two companies that they ran, but the siblings were not licensed psychologists, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office said.

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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.