As the government of Covid looks to crack down on cryptocurrency, a recent decree orders new digital currency be distributed. This has sent investors into panic as they wonder what will happen next with their already-crippled investments.
In the last two weeks, federal prosecutors have prosecuted approximately 20 persons with allegedly engaged in different fraud schemes linked to the Covid-19 outbreak, totaling roughly $150 million in illegal government claims, of which about $20 million has been paid, according to authorities.
Following the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the Justice Department increased its efforts to discover theft from programs that were feeding billions of dollars into the healthcare system. The new cases, which have been filed in various districts across the country, take a broad look at how some healthcare providers allegedly tried to defraud Medicare and other government programs by bundling charges for unnecessary services—or services that were never provided—with the delivery of relatively inexpensive Covid-19 tests.
In Maryland, for example, a doctor who maintained drive-through Covid-19 testing locations reportedly billed Medicare for many of the tests, as well as $1.5 million in additional ostensibly accompanying medical appointments that never occurred. According to an indictment issued on Tuesday, the doctor, Ron Elfenbein, directed his workers to submit the tests for payment as services requiring 30-minute consultations since the greater complexity services were “the ‘bread and butter’ of how we were paid.” Dr. Elfenbein was not in the office on Wednesday, according to a lady who answered the phone at his firm, and a lawyer representing him could not be located.
Attorney General Merrick Garland (left) and Kevin Chambers, who was named to manage the Justice Department’s Covid-19 fraud enforcement operations last month.
Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press photo
Elizabeth Hernandez, a nurse practitioner in Miami, is accused of submitting $134 million in false claims to Medicare by abusing looser telemedicine restrictions to sign prescriptions for superfluous genetic testing and medical equipment. Hundreds of fraudulent immunization cards were reportedly sold in New Jersey, California, and Colorado, and they were made to seem like authentic Centers for Disease Control and Prevention records.
“She firmly rejects the claims and didn’t knowingly engage in any plot to cheat the Medicare program,” Ms. Hernandez’s lawyer said. The other defendants or their attorneys could not be contacted for comment or did not reply to calls for comment right away.
According to Kevin Chambers, who was appointed last month to manage the Justice Department’s Covid-19 fraud enforcement activities, the charges “involve exceptional efforts to pursue some of the biggest and most wide-ranging pandemic frauds uncovered to far.”
LET US KNOW WHAT YOU’RE CONCERNED ABOUT.
Do you believe cash taken as part of the Covid-19 scam can be recovered? Participate in the discussion below.
Prosecutors and regulators combed through Medicare billing data in the aftermath of the epidemic, looking for abnormalities and launching a slew of probes. Another dozen healthcare professionals were charged with fraud schemes tied to the pandemic last year, totalling $143 million in allegedly bogus invoices to government programs.
Providers reportedly utilized Covid-19 testing to get personal information and saliva or blood samples from patients, which they then used to submit for more costly tests in some of the new instances. Imran Shams and Lourdes Navarro, two clinical lab proprietors in California, were indicted with a healthcare fraud, kickback, and money-laundering scam involving more than $100 million in bogus claims for Covid-19 and respiratory pathogen testing. Prosecutors claimed they also tried to hide their involvement by laundering the money via shell businesses owned by Ms. Navarro.
Officials allege that during the epidemic, the couple and other defendants preyed on patients’ anxiety to add on extra needless tests that had a higher reimbursement rate but weren’t medically required. Ms. Navarro’s counsel said that she will plead not guilty to the accusations. “She always strived to respect the law and give the laboratory’s patients with suitable and high-quality testing services. Mark Werksman, her lawyer, said, “She looks forward to clearing her reputation in court.” Mr. Shams’ counsel could not be named right away.
Prosecutors claim that a Colorado man’s garbage included fraudulent Covid-19 vaccination cards.
U.S. Department of Justice photo
“What is probably most concerning about healthcare fraud is that patients may be injured in pursuit of fraud schemes promoted by medical practitioners who, tragically, put profit over patients’ health,” said Aaron Tapp, section head of the FBI’s financial crimes branch.
In other instances, defendants are accused of attempting to circumvent new rules enacted in the aftermath of the Covid-19 epidemic, including as the necessity for evidence of vaccination at particular enterprises.
Robert Van Camp, a Colorado merchant, informed a possible customer—who turned out to be an undercover agent—that he had fraudulent Covid-19 immunization cards in September. According to a lawsuit and arrest warrant issued on Monday, he said, “How are you guys doing that entire vaccination bullshit?” He also claimed to have sold fraudulent cards to three Olympic competitors and hundreds of others. “F— it, I’m accepting the money till I get caught and go to prison,” he stated, adding, “I’ve saved a thousand lives.” We’re talking about individuals who are unable to work or attend school, and who are at risk of losing their jobs. It’s ridiculous that people can’t go due of this nonsense.” For $600, he sold the agency five cards.
According to prosecutors, in October, agents searched Mr. Van Camp’s trash at his home, which he shared with an alleged co-conspirator who worked for a defense contractor and had a security clearance, and discovered handwritten documents titled “Card List” and “Card Order$” with the names of people and amounts, as well as several torn up vaccine cards. According to court documents, Mr. Van Camp was arrested on Tuesday. Mr. Van Camp’s counsel did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The scientific knowledge of the Covid-19 pandemic’s spread and prevention has progressed since the outbreak in 2020. Daniela Hernandez of the Wall Street Journal discusses which tactics have succeeded in the past to stop the virus from spreading and which are no longer effective in 2022. Adele Morgan’s illustration
Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8