Power

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37187530 - medical team examining patient in hospital.

Sometimes power changes people for the better and sometimes it doesn’t. Some people use a position of power to help others around them, while others use it to serve themselves. A former Nebraska Medicaid administrator used his position as power of attorney for his father to commit Medicaid fraud. Not only did he scam his employer out of $84,000, but also his father out of nearly $300,000. (This guy is definitely not going to win the “Son of the Year” award.)

The former Nebraska Medicaid employee became power of attorney for his father while working for the government healthcare program as administrator of the Medicaid Audit and Financial Support division. (That’s kind of ironic.) Following the death of his wife, the father sold his home and moved into a nursing home in Elkhorn, Nebraska, handing over the reins of his affairs to his son. (Boy, was that ever a big mistake.)

The son didn’t waste any time depositing his father’s pension and Social Security checks into a bank account that he shared with his wife. (The steady stream of retirement income intended for the father was spent by the son for his “own personal use and enjoyment.”) Consequently, it wasn’t long before the father’s nursing home account was in the red for $118,000. (The son was spending his father’s money on himself, while his father became approved for Nebraska Medicaid. The father qualified because he no longer had any assets due to his son’s spending habits.)

Court documents show that the father lost $294,396 as a result of his son’s illegal scheme. This includes money the son stole from his father’s mutual funds account, pension, and $113,858 from the Social Security Administration.Nebraska Medicaid reported a loss of $84,110. (It’s too bad the article didn’t list what the son spent all the money on. Bottom line, he must have had a pretty good time until he got caught.)

The deceptive son pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud for his devious Medicaid fraud scheme that essentially left his father penniless. He is currently awaiting sentencing.

It’s interesting to know that the former Medicaid employee left the agency for a financial associate job with the Nebraska Innovation Campus Business Center. (It’s scary to think that he could be in charge of anything that involves controlling finances.)

Today’s fraud case illustrates the importance of choosing a trusted advisor to serve in a power of attorney capacity. There are lots of articles on how to pick the right person for the job, but the main characteristic to look for is trustworthiness. Perhaps today’s victim truly trusted his son, but unfortunately, the son let his power status go to his head.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Former Nebraska Medicaid administrator pleads guilty to bilking 85-year-old father,” published by The Journal Star on January 8, 2019.

A former state Medicaid audit administrator now admits he bilked the program of $84,000 — and his 85-year-old father of nearly $300,000 — while he was in the job.

Craig A. Barnett, 5310 Sawgrass Drive, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud for the scheme last week in U.S. District Court in Omaha as part of a plea agreement.

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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.