Free Ride

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A free ride can turn into a very expensive ride when those who commit fraud against government benefits programs get caught.

Such is the case of a Mississippi woman, who took more than a free ride, compliments of the Medicaid healthcare program. (More like an all-expense paid extended vacation.) TennCare – Tennessee’s Medicaid program – paid out more than a quarter of a million dollars as a result of a Medicaid fraud perpetrated by the Southaven, Miss., resident. (She didn’t want to defraud her own state?)

The woman submitted claims stating she lived in Tennessee. She also lied about her household information – in particular, her marital status, since reporting her husband’s income would have disqualified her from receiving TennCare benefits.

She pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud after receiving more than $250,000 in TennCare benefits she did not deserve. The 36-year-old was sentenced to a decade of judicial diversion. This means that as a first-time offender, she will receive no jail time and after completion of the probation period, the records of her offense will be destroyed. (Lucky her!) The fraudster must also pay back $258,303.64 in restitution to TennCare. That’s the highest individual amount of fraud since TennCare fraud investigations began in 2004. (She might not have gotten caught if she hadn’t been so greedy).

As an aside, you might be interested to know that TennCare is the first state Medicaid program to enroll all Medicaid recipients in managed care. ( While today’s fraudster hoped to take advantage of the free healthcare benefits that TennCare offered, it looks like her ride has run out of gas.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “Mississippi woman ordered to pay more than $250,000 in restitution for TennCare fraud,” posted on Fox17.com on August 1, 2019.

A Mississippi woman has been ordered to repay more than $250,000 in TennCare benefits.

Cheri Cavitt, 36, was convicted of fraudulently reporting that she lived in Tennessee and misrepresented her household information.

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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.