73 Arrested in Largest-Ever Medicare Scam

Federal agents charged 73 people Wednesday in the largest-ever Medicare scam, with arrests in New York, Los Angeles, New Mexico, Georgia, and Ohio. Prosecutors said American gangsters and their associates created phantom health clinics to attempt to cheat Medicare out of $163 million. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the scheme was so large it “put traditional Mafia to shame.” The whole operation was headed up by a traditional vor, or Mob godfather, prosecutors said, and Bharara said it was the first time a vor had been charged in a federal racketeering case. Authorities said they began the investigation after 2,900 Medicare patients in upstate New York reported their information—including Social Security numbers and birth certificates—stolen. In New York alone, more than $100 million in fraudulent bills were submitted, and Medicare paid out at least $35 million, sometimes by wiring it directly to the criminals’ bank accounts.