Monday, October 26, 2020

Georgia man indicted for fraudulent coronavirus test claims

-

Federal prosecutors have criminally charged a Georgia man for allegedly conspiring to defraud federal and private health-care benefit programs “by submitting fraudulent testing claims” for coronavirus and genetic cancer screenings, authorities announced Monday.

The man, 49-year-old Erik Santos is accused in a complaint by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey of one count of conspiring to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, and a single count of conspiring to commit health care fraud. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of both counts.

Prosecutors said that during a phone call on March 19, Santos explained how he viewed the coronavirus outbreak as a chance to make money.

″[W]hile there are people going through what they are going through, you can either go bankrupt or you can prosper,” Santos said on that call, according to prosecutors.

- Advertisement -

During the same call, prosecutors said, “Santos noted that his other work was on hold because ‘everybody has been chasing the Covid dollar bird.’”

Santos was arrested at his home in Braselton, Georgia, on Monday by FBI agents, and is scheduled to appear in Atlanta federal court later in the day, according to authorities.

Santos’ alleged “scheme aimed to submit more than $1.1 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare,” according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito in a statement said, “The complaint in this case describes a defendant who saw the spread of COVID-19 as nothing more than an opportunity to profit personally.”

- Advertisement -

“As the complaint alleges, he offered kickbacks in exchange for medically unnecessary tests – including potentially hard-to-obtain COVID-19 tests – thus preying on people’s fear in order to defraud the government and make money for himself,” Carpenito said.

Special Agent in Charge Gregory Ehrie of the FBI’s Newark office said, “This defendant not only allegedly defrauded the government, he conspired to bilk his fellow citizens of a valuable resource that’s in high demand.”

“His profiteering is akin to receiving blood money,” Ehrie said.

According to Carpenito’s office, “Santos ran a marketing company that generated leads to testing companies.”

“From November 2019 through the present, Santos and others engaged in a large-scale scheme to defraud Medicare by soliciting and receiving kickback payments from companies involved in clinical and diagnostic testing in exchange for steering to those companies individuals eligible for testing that Medicare would reimburse,” the office said.

Prosecutors claim that Santos “agreed with others to be paid kickbacks on a per-test basis for submitting genetic cancer screening tests to diagnostic testing facilities, regardless of medical necessity.” A genetic cancer screening is a diagnostic tool that tests for a genetic predisposition to cancer. Santos’ scheme aimed to submit more than $1.1 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.

Prosecutors also said that as the coronavirus pandemic grew, Santos used it as an opportunity “to expand his pre-existing kickback schemes and to capitalize on a national emergency for his own financial gain.”

“Santos agreed with others to be paid kickbacks on a per-test basis for COVID-19 tests, provided that those tests were bundled with a much more expensive respiratory pathogen panel (RPP) test, which does not identify or treat COVID-19,” the New Jersey U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

“Santos sought to maximize his kickback profits and to bleed federal health care resources at a time when Medicare beneficiaries across the United States were in dire need of coverage for medical treatment and services.”

A spokesman for prosecutors said they did not know if Santos has a lawyer.

MUST READ

Julius Baer to deny two former CEOs their bonuses over money laundering scandal

Julius Baer will withhold millions of francs in bonuses from its former chief executives Boris Collardi and Bernhard Hodler, as a result of a...

Goldman Sachs executives to cover part payments of $3 billion fines in 1MDB scandal

Nine current or former Goldman Sachs executives, including CEO David Solomon, will have to pay back hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation over...

Goldman Sachs agrees $3 billion settlement with US DoJ over 1MDB corruption scandal

Goldman Sachs has agreed to pay nearly $3bn (£2.3bn) in the US to end a probe of its role in Malaysia's 1MDB corruption scandal. The...

Hong Kong fines Goldman Sachs $350 million over 1MDB scandal

Goldman Sachs ignored multiple red flags over the multibillion-dollar fundraisings it arranged for state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, Hong Kong’s financial regulator said on...

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton fires top aide who accused him of bribery

Lacey Mase, one of the top aides who accused Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton of crimes including bribery and abuse of office, has been fired, she told The...

Subscribe For More

Get our daily notification on the latest financial crimes news around the World

Advertisement
Advertisement

Latest News

This Week

Judge orders billionaire Greg Lindberg to report to prison after conviction for bribery

Try as he might to extend his freedom, Durham businessman and convicted felon Greg Lindberg will become a federal inmate on Tuesday. Lindberg, the billionaire...

Mozambique seeks prosecution of ex-Credit Suisse bankers implicated in debt scandal

Mozambique's Attorney General's Office said on Wednesday it will seek the extradition of three former Credit Suisse CSGN.S bankers implicated in a $2 billion debt scandal...

Operators of fake theology school accused of stealing $12 million in student aid

Six people from three states are charged with defrauding $12 million from federal student aid programs by allegedly enrolling students into a theology school...

Crown Resorts chairman Helen Coonan admits casino ‘enabled’ money laundering

Crown Resorts chairman Helen Coonan has conceded the casino giant facilitated money laundering at its Melbourne casino, but blamed it on "ineptitude" rather than...
Advertisement

Adblock Detected!

Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by whitelisting our website.

Enable Notifications    Ok No thanks