How lucrative can ripping off Medicare be? Lucrative enough that one scamster was offering up to $1,000 a patient to "recruiters" who sent customers her way.
Doris Vinitski, 46, the owner of Onward Medical Supply, signed up the patients and then started billing Medicare for the usual stuff -- wheelchairs and orthotic devices -- that the "patients" never got.
Proving that scamming the feds can overcome heartbreak, prosecutors say Vinitski's co-conspirator was her "estranged husband," John Lachman.
How much did they get out of Medicare? At least $2 million.
Vinitski entered a guilty plea and was sentenced yesterday to seven years in prison.
Lachman had been sentenced earlier and received 26 months.
Say the feds:
The case was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas and the Criminal Division's Fraud Section. Since March 2007, Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,000 defendants who collectively have billed the Medicare program for more than $2.3 billion. In addition, HHS's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.