Read the Fine Print

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It’s important to read the fine print before engaging in a transaction that seems too good to be true. (People tend to get really excited about what kind of deal they’re going to get and skip the tiny words that explain what it’s all about.) An article published by the Sun-Sentinel tells about a scam that involved newspaper advertisements promising an endless supply of government benefits in exchange for a few thousand dollars.

The story states that the scheme mastermind placed advertisements in newspapers stating that she could obtain a variety of government benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps for anyone regardless of any circumstances. (That’s a pretty big promise.) All that was required was a fee of anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000. The woman at the center of this particular story was a co-conspirator and her role was to process fraudulent Medicaid claims. (Apparently, she accepted at least 30 cash payments worth approximately $15,000.)

Other co-conspirators mentioned in the story worked as claims representatives for the Social Security Administration and the Florida Department of Children and Families. They all processed applications submitted on behalf of people seeking government benefits they did not deserve.The scam leader paid each claims representative about $1,000 a month in exchange for helping her go after more than $5 million in benefits through the alteration of claim applications. (In all, the health care fraud scheme cost Medicaid more than $2.7 million.)

The 50-year-old woman struck a deal with government attorneys and pleaded guilty to accepting bribes. She is currently facing up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines when sentenced. The woman who led the scam was charged with conspiracy to commit bribery in programs receiving federal funds and commit health care fraud, and conspiracy to give a gratuity to a public official. If she is convicted, she will face a 10-year prison sentence and a maximum fine of $500,000.

Once again, if the offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Government benefits are meant for people who qualify for and deserve to receive them. They are not intended to increase the bank account balances of those who think stealing from those less fortunate is acceptable.

Source: Today’s ”Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled ”Pines Woman Take Plea Deal in Medicaid Fraud Case,” written by Wayne K. Roustan and published by the Sun-Sentinel on September 17, 2015.

A Pembroke Pines woman has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes as part of a nearly $3-million health care fraud scheme, federal court records show.

Maria Sanchez, 50, of Pembroke Pines, struck a deal with government attorneys Tuesday and is facing up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines when sentenced at a later date, the records indicate.

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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.