South Fla. health officials busted in nationwide Medicare fraud sting

50 arrests, 26 indictments handed down

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter

MIAMI - Authorities have arrested 50 people in 26 separate cases, including, doctors, nurses, clinic owners and pharmacists, who are accused of stealing money by billing Medicare, but faking the reasons why.

"The schemes we're seeing the most of right now are fraud against Medicare Part D - prescription medication," said U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer.

The 50 people involved are accused of costing the nation's medical security $66 million in Medicare loss due to $260 million in false billings.

"These cases and charges include a number of inappropriate behaviors, some that can inflict real harm on Medicare beneficiaries, including those that have endured the risks and trauma of unnecessary treatments and services," said Dr. Shantanu Agrawal with the Centers for Medicare Services.

The Medicare fraud arrests made public Tuesday are part of a six-city effort, and though South Florida keeps its No. 1 title, the trend appears to show investigators' Medical Fraud Strike Force is making a dent, in part due to high-tech tools that track Medicare billing real-time and spot practices that raise flags.

"That way we catch them in the act, and we can use other tools like search warrants and inside information, right at the moment," said Ferrer.

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