Collecting Fraud


People collect all sorts of memorabilia including stamps, comic books, stuffed animals, coins and baseball cards to name just a few. Usually, collectors spend their own money to add something new to their prized collection, but a neurologist from Michigan spent nearly $2 million of illegally gained Medicare payments to fund his $9.3 million collection of baseball cards, ancient coins, collectible currency and stamps.

The neurologist was a pain management doctor, who was heralded as the top dispenser of a cancer painkiller medication in the United States. (It’s important to note that the medicine was not necessary in many cases. He also ordered electromyography (EMG) procedures that were not medically necessary.) His bogus claims allowed him to collect $1.9 million from Medicare and $1.2 million from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Wondering what he did with all the money he scammed from the government and the insurance industry? Over five years, he spent his illegally gained funds with more than a dozen coin and collectible dealers across the country. When investigators visited his $1.1 million home that overlooked a lake, they found boxes of coins, stamps and Costa Rican currency. They also found coins, currency, baseball cards, jewelry and stamps in at least 16 safe deposit boxes located in two banks. He also kept some of his coins in one of his medical offices. (Several of them were from ancient Rome and Judea and honored former emperors.)

The 58-year-old pleaded guilty to health care fraud and distribution of controlled substances. He could face anywhere between 70 months and 30 years in prison when sentenced.

Under a plea agreement, the neurologist will pay $4.1 million to the U.S. Treasury Department. (This money will be used to compensate the victims. Who knows what impact the cancer medication had on these folks.) Another $1 million will go to the U.S. Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture fund where it will be used to compensate local law enforcement agencies. (Investigators seized his coin collection and another $2.9 million in cash, which will go towards this fraudster’s restitution.)

This memorabilia collector has met his match. He didn’t count on the fact that the government is really good at collecting fraudsters and making them pay for their crimes.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, ”West Bloomfield Township Doctor Pleads Guilty in Medicare Fraud Case,” published by The Bloomfield Patch on November 8, 2016.

A West Bloomfield Township neurologist who reaped millions by allegedly cheating Medicare and spent more than $9.3 million on baseball cards, ancient coins, collectible currency and stamps pleaded guilty on Monday to felony charges.

Dr. Gavin Awerbuch pleaded guilty to health care fraud and distribution of controlled substances before U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow, the Detroit News is reporting.

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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.