Free Ride

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A free ride can turn into a very expensive ride when those who commit fraud against government benefits programs get caught.

Such is the case of a Mississippi woman, who took more than a free ride, compliments of the Medicaid healthcare program. (More like an all-expense paid extended vacation.) TennCare – Tennessee’s Medicaid program – paid out more than a quarter of a million dollars as a result of a Medicaid fraud perpetrated by the Southaven, Miss., resident. (She didn’t want to defraud her own state?)

The woman submitted claims stating she lived in Tennessee. She also lied about her household information – in particular, her marital status, since reporting her husband’s income would have disqualified her from receiving TennCare benefits.

She pleaded guilty to Medicaid fraud after receiving more than $250,000 in TennCare benefits she did not deserve. The 36-year-old was sentenced to a decade of judicial diversion. This means that as a first-time offender, she will receive no jail time and after completion of the probation period, the records of her offense will be destroyed. (Lucky her!) The fraudster must also pay back $258,303.64 in restitution to TennCare. That’s the highest individual amount of fraud since TennCare fraud investigations began in 2004. (She might not have gotten caught if she hadn’t been so greedy).

As an aside, you might be interested to know that TennCare is the first state Medicaid program to enroll all Medicaid recipients in managed care. ( While today’s fraudster hoped to take advantage of the free healthcare benefits that TennCare offered, it looks like her ride has run out of gas.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article, “Mississippi woman ordered to pay more than $250,000 in restitution for TennCare fraud,” posted on Fox17.com on August 1, 2019.

A Mississippi woman has been ordered to repay more than $250,000 in TennCare benefits.

Cheri Cavitt, 36, was convicted of fraudulently reporting that she lived in Tennessee and misrepresented her household information.

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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.