WHAT: Lured by the easy money and shorter prison sentences, Mafia figures and other criminals are increasingly moving into Medicare fraud and spilling blood over what was once a white-collar crime. Around the nation, federal investigators have been threatened, an informant’s body was found riddled with bullets and a woman was discovered murdered in a pharmacy.
HOW: Scammers typically make money by billing Medicare for equipment and drugs that patients never received or needed. Some pay homeless people for Medicare or Social Security numbers to use in fake billing invoices. Others intimidate elderly victims to use their Medicare numbers. A Medicare scammer could easily net at least $25,000 a day while risking a relatively modest 10 years in prison if convicted on a single count.
WHAT’S BEING DONE: One Southern California criminal task force has arrested about 50 suspects on suspicion of Medicare fraud in the past three years. Eleven members of New York’s Bonanno family were indicted in May in a Florida Medicare fraud scheme.