The Power of Persuasion

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We are impacted by persuasion every day. Just turn on the television and within a few minutes, you’ve watched at least one commercial, if not more, advertising a sizeable discount if you call a toll-free number, log-on to a website, or run on down to the store immediately. Have you ever attended a neighbor or friend’s home show, where you feel persuaded to buy something because you think the host might be disappointed if you don’t? (It’s almost a guarantee that you will buy a thing-a-ma-jig that you don’t need.) Today’s fraudster, the owner of two Brooklyn, New York medical clinics, used the power of persuasion to steal from Medicaid and Medicare through a $55 million healthcare fraud scheme. (Her instrument of persuasion was cold, hard, illegal cash.)

The medical clinic owner carried out her scheme in several ways. First, she used co-conspirators to pay cash kickbacks to patients to persuade them to come to her clinics for services. Then, she submitted bogus claims to Medicare and Medicaid for services that were provided. (Sometimes patients were provided care by unlicensed staff.) The fraudster used her business bank accounts to pay third-party companies who claimed to provide services to the medical clinics, but actually paid the illegal kickbacks to the patients who visited the medical facilities.

The 47-year-old woman pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The former owner of the two Brooklyn, New York medical clinics was sentenced to serve seven years behind bars. (For $55 million, perhaps she should have received more time behind bars.) She was also ordered to pay $29,336,497.27 in restitution, plus she must also forfeit that same amount. (OK, that makes her punishment seem more in line with the crime.)

Twenty others have also pleaded guilty in connection with this case. (Sometimes, it takes a village to commit fraud.) Guilty co-conspirators include the medical directors of the two clinics, six physical and occupational therapists, three ambulette drivers, the owner of several of the sham companies through which the illegal kickbacks were laundered, and a former patient who was persuaded to accept kickbacks.

This woman’s full-time fraudulent business was motivated by greed and executed through the power of persuasion. Fortunately, the government is committed to protecting citizens from deceptive medical providers who are seeking to line their pockets by defrauding American taxpayers. Congratulations to the Medicare Strike Force for stopping this woman from carrying out her crime. (Hopefully, this criminal’s sentence will serve as a warning for any healthcare provider who decides to put personal profit ahead of any patient’s care.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on a Department of Justice press release entitled, “Owner of Brooklyn Medical Clinics Sentenced to Seven Years’ Imprisonment for Her Role in $55 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme,” released on September 15, 2017.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The owner of two medical clinics in Brooklyn, New York, was sentenced today to seven years in prison for her role in a $55 million health care fraud scheme.

Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde of the Eastern District of New York, Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Department of Justice Criminal Division, Special Agent-in-Charge Scott Lampert of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS OIG) Office of Investigations New York Region, Special Agent-in-Charge James D. Robnett of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) New York Field Office, and Inspector General Dennis Rosen of the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) made the announcement.

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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.