Wheels of Fortune

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You’ve seen the ads on TV: motor-powered wheelchairs that can restore mobility for those who can’t walk without assistance, or at all. (Considered equipment that Medicare covers only when they are deemed medically necessary by a physician.) Perhaps one California pair decided they did not want to spring for the cost of an infomercial and instead chose to swindle the government out of nearly $2 million by submitting fraudulent claims to Medicare. According to an article in MyNewsLA.com, a San Fernando Valley man and his accomplice claimed more than $1.8 million in Medicare reimbursements on behalf of ”clients” of their medical supply business.

But most of the claims turned out to be for power wheelchairs for people that the couple recruited off the street—people who did not actually need the equipment. (You have to wonder—what was the pitch? ”Take it for a spin—you’ll never want to walk anywhere again!”) The medical malefactors walked off with almost $900,000 in a scheme that involved phony paperwork and failure to deliver the promised equipment. (Which is kind of beside the point if it wasn’t needed in the first place.)

After a trial, both fraudsters were convicted of five counts of health care fraud and prosecutors sought four-year sentences for each. The man was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and his partner in crime was given probation of four years of home detention. (That’s a lot of infomercials.) They must jointly pay $814,445 in restitution to Medicare.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on, ”Prison for Medicare power-wheelchair $1.8M scam,” written by Debbie L. Sklar and published by the MyNewsLA.com on May 31, 2016.

A San Fernando Valley resident who submitted more than $1.8 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare — mostly for medically unnecessary power wheelchairs — was sentenced to federal prison. Abdul King Garba, 50, was sentenced to 21 months. His co-defendant, Queen Anieze-Smith, 54, was sentenced to probation of four years in home detention. They were ordered jointly liable for restitution of $814,445.

Garba and Anieze-Smith were convicted of five counts of health care fraud. The couple billed Medicare for beneficiaries often recruited off the street who didn’t need the equipment. As part of their scheme, they falsified paperwork and sometimes failed to deliver the wheelchairs, raking in nearly $900,000 for the bogus claims.

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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.