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Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Healthcare fraud costs the country billions of dollars each year due to medical professionals who abuse the trust given to them by the American taxpayer. A group of Pennsylvania-based doctors and medical professionals have recently been charged with defrauding Medicare just so they could have a little extra spending money.

Medical assistant Amber Harris pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the anti-kickback statute. Harris was involved in a larger Medicare fraud conspiracy to receive bribes and kickbacks in exchange for ordering unnecessary genetic tests. (Where there is one fraudster, there are surely more groupies to follow.)

Harris worked as a medical assistant for a primary care practice owned and operated by Yitzachok “Barry” Kurtzer in Scranton. Kurtzer and his wife accepted monthly cashbacks in exchange for collecting unauthorized DNA samples from their Medicare patients and sending them to laboratories in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for genetic testing. (They must’ve been under the misconception that everything’s legal in New Jersey.)

The Kurtzers began receiving cash kickbacks in 2018 for each DNA sample they sent to a laboratory. The kickbacks, which could be as much as $5,000 per stolen sample, were delivered directly to their primary care facilities. (They seem to use their medical practice as the scheme headquarters more than for legitimate business.)

Their scheme continued despite the coronavirus pandemic as they began to accept kickbacks via wire and a money transfer app. (Fraud might be the only line of work that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.) Harris helped collect the DNA from patients and was aware the purpose of the swabs was to receive monetary kickbacks from laboratories. Medicare was defrauded out of $755,241 due to the genetic tests ordered from Kurtzer’s practice.

The charge of conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback statute carries a maximum charge of five years in federal prison. Harris could also be ordered to pay a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss derived from the offense (She’ll be forced to pay whichever cost is greater and hurts her pocketbook more.)

Other doctors and medical assistants have been charged for their part in this kickback scheme. The charges pending against the remaining defendants are merely allegations and they will be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a Department of Justice press release, “Medical Assistant Admits Role in Genetic Testing Kickback and Bribery Scheme,” on September 3, 2020.

TRENTON, N.J. – A Pennsylvania medical assistant today admitted participating in a conspiracy to receive bribes and kickbacks in exchange for ordering genetic tests, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Amber Harris, 28, of Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson to an information charging her with one count of conspiring to violate the anti-kickback statute.

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