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long arm of justice

DOJ charges 21 people for COVID-related medical fraud

The U.S. Department of Justice announced charges against 21 people who allegedly participated in COVID-19 medical fraud schemes that netted them almost $150 million, Axios reports.

"This COVID-19 health care fraud enforcement action involves extraordinary efforts to prosecute some of the largest and most wide-ranging pandemic frauds detected to date," said Director for COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Kevin Chambers in a Wednesday statement. "The scale and complexity of the schemes prosecuted today illustrates the success of our unprecedented interagency effort to quickly investigate and prosecute those who abuse our critical health care programs."

Some of the defendants are health care professionals who used the personal information and saliva or blood samples provided by people seeking COVID-19 testing to submit fraudulent Medicare claims for more expensive tests that were never performed. Another took advantage of relaxed telemedicine rules to bill for telemedicine encounters that never occurred.

According to Axios, "[t]he 21 defendants were charged in nine federal districts across the country," and the Justice Department "said it seized over $8 million in cash and 'other fraud proceeds.'"