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?