Witch Doctor


As a general rule, society trusts doctors. And, why shouldn’t we? They’re knowledgeable, talented and have spent quite a bit of time in school studying topics most of us would never want to touch. Plus, they live by an oath – ”first, do no harm.” It’s too bad one Florida doctor didn’t apply try to avoid doing harm to the American taxpayer, because now his actions have landed him in prison, according to today’s ”Fraud of the Day” from Tampa Bay Online.

The Lakeland physician submitted false information to the Social Security Administration allowing him to collect Social Security disability benefits while working.

The article reports that for five years, the 68-year old doctor submitted forms to the Social Security Administration that allowed him to receive disability benefits. The forms claimed he was in poor health and could no longer see patients on a regular basis. Instead, he indicated that he was relegated to performing administrative duties and seeing the occasional patient in off-hours for the practice. As a result, he said he was entitled to Social Security disability to supplement his income. In fact, his application was based on a lie. He was working at the clinic during the week and frequently covered for four other doctors on weekend shifts. (Seriously, no shame!)

A federal judge recently sentenced him to pay $114,488.90 in restitution and spend 15 months in federal prison. (Now, he really won’t be seeing any patients.)

Here, the fraudster was a doctor. The truth is: it could be anyone in any profession. Here’s another truth: there is no good reason these fraudsters shouldn’t be caught. All that’s needed is to leverage technology and public records to detect indicators for fraud. If someone is drawing a salary at the same time he/she is receiving disability or other government (read: taxpayer-sponsored) benefits, public records and analytics technology will recognize and flag the anomaly. It can do in minutes what investigators pouring through files will discover in days or weeks – if they know what they are looking for.

So, here’s the question for the day: why wouldn’t an agency use public records and technology to find fraud?

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on the article titled ”Lakeland Doctor Gets 15-month Sentence for Social Security Fraud,” published by Tampa Bay Online on August 15, 2012.

A Lakeland physician was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to falsifying information that allowed him to receive Social Security disability benefits.

Srinivas Samak, 68, submitted forms over a five-year period advising the Social Security Administration that he was hindered by his health condition and no longer able to physically attend to patients at his medical practice, according to court documents.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.