Federal agents break up massive Medicare scam

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Federal agents break up massive Medicare scam


Federal agents broke up a massive Medicare scam Tuesday, arresting two dozen people across the country who allegedly peddled unneeded orthopedic braces to hundreds of thousands of seniors.

The Justice Department said the scheme, which relied on overseas call center operators to pry Medicare numbers from beneficiaries, resulted in a $1.2 billion loss to taxpayers.

Authorities announced charges against 24 people, including doctors accused of writing bogus prescriptions for unneeded back, shoulder, wrist and knee braces.

Others charged included owners of call centers, telemedicine firms and medical equipment companies.

The Health and Human Services inspector general's office said the fast-moving scam morphed into multiple related schemes, fueled by kickbacks among the parties involved.

Medicare's anti-fraud unit said it's taking action against 130 medical equipment companies implicated.

Profits from the scheme were laundered through offshore shell companies and then used to buy high-end cars, yachts and luxury homes here and abroad, officials said.
Attempts to reach defendants named by the Justice Department were unsuccessful.

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