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List of “wanted” US healthcare thieves is posted on the web

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d831 (Published 07 February 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d831
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. 1New York

It used to be that “Wanted” posters of bank robbers and murderers were tacked to the wall in local post offices in the United States. Now the Office of the Inspector General of the federal Department of Health and Human Services has moved into the internet age.

On its website (http://oig.hhs.gov/fugitives) the department has posted photos and profiles of people who are wanted by the federal government on charges of healthcare fraud and abuse, together with tips on how to turn them in to the authorities. The department’s 10 “most wanted” healthcare fraud fugitives have allegedly cheated the government and taxpayers of more than $124m (£77m; €91m).

Among them are the three members of the Benitez family who, the department alleges, submitted fraudulent claims totalling $110m from their Florida HIV treatment clinics to Medicare, the government insurance plan for elderly and disabled people. The department says that the treatments were medically unnecessary or were never administered.

Leonard Nwafor and his colleagues in the Los Angeles area are said to have billed Medicare for $1.1m and collected $525 000 in fraudulent claims for durable medical equipment such as motorised wheelchairs, scooters, and hospital beds. He was sentenced in his absence to nine years in prison.

Susan Bendigo is accused of billing California’s Medicaid programme for $17.1m, $10m of which she actually collected. While working for a company providing nurses to home health agencies she is said to have sent unlicensed nurses to treat patients, although she knew that licensed nurses were needed.

Besides the 10 “most wanted,” the inspector general is seeking more than 160 other “wanted” fugitives. The inspector general, Daniel Levinson, said that his office was asking for the public’s help.

“The public has a stake in the fight against fraud, waste, and abuse,” he said.

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d831

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