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Most Wanted Fugitives: Uncle Sam's Hunt for Healthcare Fraudsters

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on September 17, 2015 10:44 AM

Healthcare fraud does not make for great drama like, say, a bank robbery. But it does cost taxpayers millions of dollars every year, and its perpetrators are dangerous criminals of the most deceptive kind.

These fraudsters are often doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals entrusted with our care, and their schemes endanger lives. But these are the people we'd be least likely to suspect of crime.

Now the threat of healthcare fraud is made abundantly clear with the Office of the Inspector General's Most Wanted Fugitives website.

Uncle Sam Wants You

The OIG is looking for 170 health care fugitives charged with defrauding Medicare and Medicaid out of more than $400 million. The top ten are prominently featured on the Most Wanted Fugitives site, along with details about their professional and criminal activities, and when and where they were last seen.

"We will take whatever measures necessary to track down and apprehend these criminals who steal from our healthcare programs," says Gary Cantrell, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations at the OIG in a video. "Catching these fugitives helps protect taxpayer dollars, programs created for our most vulnerable citizens."

Cantrell wants our help catching these bad guys and gals, saying, "Together we can make a difference." The OIG website gives details about healthcare fraud fugitives so that we will provide tips that will help in their apprehension. It also gives guidance on where and how to direct tips.

Spotting Common Schemes

Medicare and Medicaid are national healthcare programs for the elderly, the indigent, and the seriously ill. Healthcare fraud can be difficult to spot and stop because it is often based on false claims arising in legitimate settings and patients are not in a position to challenge their health care providers, even if something seems fishy or just not necessary.

The following are just a few examples of common healthcare fraud schemes:

  • Home health care workers submit reimbursements to the government for patient visits that are either medically unnecessary or did not occur at all.
  • Medical suppliers to provide items that are not prescribed but are reimbursed by the government.
  • Doctors are billing for false or unnecessary visits, or prescribing medically unnecessary drugs.

A Global Reach

Many of the OIG's most wanted fugitives are believed to be abroad, according to details about them listed on the website. But that does not deter Gary Cantrell, who says that the OIG regularly works with law enforcement officials around the world to apprehend healthcare fraudsters. "Fleeing the country is not a get-out-of-jail-free card," he explains. "We have a global reach."

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