The Old Switcheroo

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A confidence trick or game is a deceptive tactic where an individual attempts to gain the trust of a victim by taking advantage of the human psyche. A Bristol, Connecticut social services business owner took advantage of her psychotherapy patients and their psyches by earning their trust as a provider, but then she pulled the old switcheroo. She committed Medicaid fraud over approximately three-and-a-half years by billing the government healthcare program for services they did not receive. Read on to diagnose the condition of today’s fraudster.

Life is hard. Even the strongest people need a little help to work through life’s more challenging problems. So, what could be worse than being in a vulnerable situation to start with, then come to find that the person you trusted to help you navigate the difficulties of life is not qualified to provide advice. (The business owner billed Medicaid for services performed by unlicensed individuals or in some cases, for services not provided at all.)

The Bristol, Connecticut woman conspired with two others to carry out the Medicaid fraud scheme. One co-conspirator was a licensed clinical social worker who owned and operated a counseling clinic in Hartford. The 68-year-old allowed others to bill Medicaid for psychotherapy services using her Medicaid provider number, even though an unqualified individual provided the services. (Further research shows that the Hartford business owner would keep 30 percent of the proceeds, then pay the 70 percent to the co-conspirators. The other co-conspirator followed suit but kept a smaller percentage of the take.)

While the 45-year-old business owner, who operated two locations in Bristol and Torrington, tried to cover up her trick by pleading “not guilty” on 23 counts of healthcare fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, the tables were quickly turned. She was found guilty of Medicaid fraud and sentenced to four years in federal prison. She must also pay more than $2 million in restitution. (I bet that deflated her confidence.)

The person who carries out a confidence trick is usually referred to as a “confidence man” or “con artist.” Today’s case shows that as a law-abiding taxpayer, you can be confident in the U.S. judicial system’s ability to adequately prosecute criminals who try to take advantage of vulnerable citizens. (But, good luck in getting that $2 million in restitution.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, Medicaid fraud nets Bristol woman 4 yrs.,” posted on HartfordBusiness.com on April 20, 2018.

A Bristol woman will spend four years in federal prison for defrauding Connecticut’s Medicaid program for unperformed psychotherapy services, authorities say.

Ronnette Brown, 45, also was sentenced Thursday in Bridgeport federal court to three years of supervised release on her May 2017 conviction for 23 counts of healthcare fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, the Connecticut U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

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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.