Sleep Study Fraudster Gets a $2.75M Wake-Up Call

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Calculator and stethoscope on paperwork

Sleep studies are essential to properly diagnosing and treating sleep issues that can lead to serious medical problems like diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke. (Doctors use the study results to properly prescribe treatment so sleep deprived individuals can get the rest they need to live a productive life.)

Anna Vishnevsky, a California sleep clinic owner that was more interested in putting money in her pocket than helping her patients catch some zzz’s, concocted a massive healthcare fraud scheme to recruit (i.e., bribe) sleep study participants regardless of whether they had any medical need for them. She didn’t bother to review or interpret the resulting data, making the testing worthless for any participants who might actually have sleep disorders. (You snooze, you lose.)

From March 2014 until June 2016, Vishnevsky offered cash to patients to undergo sleep studies and recruit co-workers and relatives to be tested at her clinic. Participants were primarily employees of UPS and Costco. She submitted claims not just for unneeded one-night sleep studies, but also for follow-up studies which were never conducted. Along the way, she fraudulently listed physicians who never treated the patients on the claims. The clinic racked up $11.5 million in billings to healthcare benefits programs and collected $3 million. (That’s one greedy batch of bogus billings.)

Under a plea agreement, Vishnevsky pleaded guilty in November 2018 to one count of healthcare fraud. In March 2020 she was sentenced to 37months in federal prison and ordered to pay $2.74 million in restitution. (Easy come, easy go.)

Many of the Californian test subjects also got a rude awakening: they were required to pay back the fraudulent insurance claims submitted using their names or lose their health insurance. A co-defendant, Eddie Hernandez, helped recruit participants for the sleep studies. He also pleaded guilty to one charge of healthcare fraud and is serving a 30-month federal prison sentence. (Sounds like a nightmare that will never end.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Valley Village Woman Sentenced to More than Three Years for Billing Scheme,” posted on my newsla.com on March 5, 2020.

The owner of a Studio City clinic was sentenced Thursday to 37 months in federal prison for causing more than $11.5 million in bills to be submitted to healthcare benefit programs for unnecessary — and sometimes nonexistent — sleep studies, primarily for employees of United Parcel Service and Costco.

Anna Vishnevsky, 52, of Valley Village was sentenced by U.S. District Judge George H. Wu, who also ordered her to pay $2.74 million in restitution. Vishnevsky, who owned Atlas Diagnostic Services, pleaded guilty in November 2018 to one count of healthcare fraud.

Additional information is available from a news release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, “San Fernando Valley Woman Sentenced to Over 3 Years in Prison for Running $11.5 Million Sleep Study Scam Bilking UPS and Costco,” published Mar. 5, 2020.

 

 

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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.