Everything Has a Price

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Everyone dreams of living a lavish lifestyle at one time or another. Who hasn’t imagined lounging on the sandy beach of a remote island resort, driving a brand new luxury vehicle or wearing an expensive piece of jewelry that defines the word ”bling?’? Billboards, television commercials and magazine ads often tout the ”posh life” and although most people realize they will never live or want to live such an extravagant existence, there are some folks that will do just about anything to be rich and famous. The Orlando Sentinel details the story of one woman who became rich for a short period of time before becoming famous (if having your mug shot posted on the Internet and television qualifies you as famous) for running a business that bilked Medicaid of more than $3 million for services that were never rendered.

The 29-year-old ran a business in the Winter Park area of Florida that supposedly helped guide clients through mental health service programs. According to the story, the only improvements being made were to the fraudster’s bank account balance. For more than a year, the con woman made $608,000 in debit card purchases, while withdrawing approximately $162,000 in cash. Medicaid funds (paid for by your tax dollars) helped to maintain her lavish lifestyle with a just a few luxury items including a posh downtown Orlando condo, multiple Escalades, a Mercedes, a Ducati motorcycle, (How many modes of transportation does one person need?), several vacations and more than $175,000 of Louis Vuitton products. (Apparently, you can never have too many purses. It must be a fashion rule that you should have several designer options available to coordinate with each vehicle you drive – for each day of the week, no less.)

Supposedly, the business-owner obtained her victims’ Medicaid numbers by setting up a tent at a local shopping center where she handed out condoms and first aid supplies, while offering $25 gift cards in exchange for the personal information. One client, who never received any services from the company, had more than 100 claims submitted on his behalf. (Seems like a pretty high price to pay for a few free giveaways.) Authorities say several employees also benefited from the scheme by double billing for services that never occurred and receiving kickbacks for providing valid Medicaid numbers, even from family members. The woman has agreed to testify in those cases.

The woman pleaded guilty to racketeering and identity theft charges and agreed to cooperate with investigators. She abandoned approximately $1 million in seized assets. (That’s a good start.)

Everything has a price, and it never ceases to amaze me what a person would do to live large. (And it always seems to be at the expense of others.) It’s a given that she will have to pay a steep price and learn to adjust to a lower standard of living. Posh and lavish don’t exactly describe a jail cell.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article titled, ”Woman Gets Prison for Medicaid Fraud Scheme,” written by Amy Pavuk and published in the Orlando Sentinel on August 9, 2013.

ORLANDO – In less than six months, Janie Vittini went from shopping at luxury stores and living in a posh downtown condo, to life in a state prison cell.

The 29-year-old was arrested in March when state investigators said she ran a $3 million Medicaid fraud scheme through her Winter Park-area business, Improving Together Inc.

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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.