If you have watched TV within the past couple years, you have likely heard the popular cell phone commercials that feature the question: “Can you hear me, now?” While the advertising goal is to point out that one service provider is able to deliver a larger range of cell phone service than its competitors, the question has been used in many spinoffs, creating a variety of “can you hear me” jokes and comments. According to a NewsNet5.com article, the statement took on a whole new meaning, as investigators were screaming: “Fraud, fraud, fraud!” at an Ohio mother and her disabled son.
A mother and son duo did the unthinkable by using the son’s hearing disability as means to defraud the government of more than $80,000. (Usually you hear stories about people faking disabilities to defraud the government – this is a story of someone who actually uses the aid AND takes advantage of the system to get more!) Investigators within the Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud section discovered the mother-son scam, unveiling their methods of charging Medicaid for hearing aid repair and services that they did not need or even utilize. While the shocking factor may come from the idea that those defrauding the aid program are actually members of the population that really needs the benefits, you’d be surprised to learn another twist in the story. This is the mother’s second medical-related fraud conviction. Back in 2010, she was convicted of falsely billing Medicaid for hearing aid batteries that were never provided. (Do you see a pattern?)
While this family seems to be fluent in committing fraud, they are not as keen on the consequences of getting caught. After the 2010 scandal of the battery billing, the mother was sentenced to repay $35,000 in restitution and had her Medicaid agreement revoked. (So how was she able to commit the fraud a second time?)Investigations revealed the mother used her son’s Medicaid agreement, opening a hearing aid company she claimed she owned, just one month after conviction of her fraud. (Ok, Mom, maybe this fraud thing isn’t working out for you! Can you hear me, now?)The fraudulent family duo made a plea agreement, repaying $83,731 to Medicaid and $9,134 in investigative costs. The mother has been sentenced to serve two years of community control with a suspended sentence of one year.
I simply cannot move past the fact that someone who has experienced a need for the services provided by the aid programs would have the audacity to commit fraud against the program. Hasn’t she ever heard of the saying: “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you?” Come on, Mom. Really…can you hear the government now?