The feds said the schemes spanning 31 federal districts involved $1.1 billion in telemedicine scams, including medical professionals who allegedly billed Medicare and other government entities for remote consultations that purportedly never occurred. Another $29 million was linked to false billings for COVID-19 health care, $133 million was connected to substance abuse treatment facilities, or "sober homes," and $160 million involved other forms of health care fraud like illegal opioid distribution.
Authorities said some proceeds from the scams were spent on an array of high-end items including luxury homes, vehicles, yachts and real estate. At least one defendant used their allegedly ill-gotten gains to gamble in Las Vegas.
Several federal agencies were involved in the coordinated law enforcement effort to crack down on health care fraud, including the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"We have seen all too often criminals who engage in health care fraud — stealing from taxpayers while jeopardizing the health of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries," said Gary Cantrell, deputy inspector general for HHS. "Today’s announcement should serve as another warning to individuals who may be considering engaging in such illicit activity: our agency and its law enforcement partners remain unrelenting in our commitment to rooting out fraud, holding bad actors accountable, and protecting the millions of beneficiaries who rely on federal health care programs."
"Health care fraud targets the vulnerable in our communities, our health care system, and our basic expectation of competent, available care," FBI Criminal Investigation Division assistant director Calvin Shivers said in a statement. "Despite a continued pandemic, the FBI and our law enforcement partners remain dedicated to safeguarding American taxpayers and businesses from the steep cost of health care fraud."