What a Trip

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Stethoscope on 100 dollar bills symbolizing financial surveillance

Ibrahim Aksakal, 49, also known as “Dennis,” pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit health care fraud and wire fraud in connection with a “birth tourism” scheme in Suffolk County, N.Y. The scheme enabled pregnant Turkish women to enter the United States using tourist and business visas. Their objective was to gain birthright citizenship and medical benefits for their children.  (That sounds like quite a trip.) 

From January 2017 to September 2020, Aksakal and his co-conspirators advertised the “birth tourism scheme” on two Turkish-language Facebook pages and a Turkish-language website using the words, “bebegimamerikadadogsun,” which means, “My baby should be born in America,” and “amerikadadogum,” which means “Giving Birth in America.” The advertisements stated, “If you believe your baby should be born in the USA and become a U.S. citizen then you are at the right place… [W]e at ‘Bebegim Amerika Dogsun’… will provide future mothers and fathers this opportunity, with minimal costs…” (Un, they’re definitely not in the right place.) 

The “minimal cost” totaled to approximately $7,500. This amount supposedly included transportation; “insurance” to cover the costs of per-natal, delivery, and post-natal medical care; and, assistance with the process for applying for U.S. citizenship on behalf of children born in connection with the scheme. (And I’m sure a kickback was in there somewhere.)

The women were also instructed to conceal their pregnancies. They stayed in one of seven “birth houses” located across Long Island. (Because hiding a pregnancy in a strange location in a foreign country to gain citizenship sounds legitimate. Uh, I don’t think so.) 

Aksakal’s scheme cost Medicaid more than $1 million in benefits. Birth tourism not only manipulates our visa and immigration systems, but also diverts precious financial resources from an already overworked health care system, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Not to mention that this steals money from U.S. Citizens who rightfully deserve those benefits. Aksakal faces 20 years behind bar when sentenced. (I doubt that Aksakal will be looking forward to that trip.) 

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Turkish National Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Health Care and Wire Fraud in “Birth Tourism” Scheme,” dated October 1, 2021.

New York – Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, Ibrahim Aksakal pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit health care and wire fraud in connection with a so-called “birth tourism” scheme in Suffolk County between approximately 2017 and 2020.  The scheme facilitated pregnant Turkish women fraudulently entering the United States using tourist and business visas to give birth so that their children would obtain birthright citizenship and medical benefits.  As part of his plea, Aksakal consented to the forfeiture of $397,500 as proceeds linked to his role in the scheme.  Today’s proceeding was held before United States District Judge Joanna Seybert.

 

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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.