Private Pharmacy Caught Stealing Money From Medicare
QUEENS — September 25, 2018
As is well known, the only one who can get justice from pharmaceutical giants is the state. This time, the New York Police Department accidentally discovered a scheme that allowed private companies to enrich themselves at the expense of the Federal Medicare program.
Because Medicare is a state program, the state should monitor violations of the programs. Law enforcement agencies accused the owner of four giant pharmacies, 'Superdrugs' in Queens, of stealing nearly $8 million from the state. The owned was receiving compensation for drugs that were not actually released for several years. Now she faces up to 10 years in prison.
According to information provided by prosecutors and the FBI, 33-years-old Aleah Mohammed, also known as Aleah Haniff, since 2015 had sent forged documents to government agencies, receiving significant compensation from the Medicare program funds. Among the drugs that the woman allegedly prescribed to patients in need were drugs for HIV infection and many other serious diseases. However, in reality, it was all one big swindle. In most cases, neither the patients nor the drugs actually existed.
"This case is another example of the outstanding work of the Department’s Medicare Fraud Strike Forces, which are focused on safeguarding federally funded health care programs and vigorously prosecuting those who seek to defraud them," assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said.
With the illegally-obtained money the businesswoman was able to afford a luxurious lifestyle. With the 3 years of scamming, she managed to buy a Porsche, apartments, and different jewelry and the gold. In addition, Mohammed generously gave money to her relatives and friends. In total, the thief managed to get $7.9 million. The scam was uncovered after regulatory authorities observed an increased 'cash appetite' in pharmacies belonging to Mohammed.
"This indictment should serve as a warning to any healthcare provider daring to use Medicare and Medicaid as a vehicle to steal money," said Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert of HHS-OIG, in a prepared statement. "We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue those who seek to undermine taxpayer-funded health care programs intended for our most vulnerable Americans."
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI New York Field Office, also issued prepared statements on the case, emphasizing the significance of the alleged theft to taxpayers.
"As alleged in the indictment, Mohammed used her pharmacies to steal from publicly funded health care programs and fund her lavish lifestyle," said Donoghue. "This Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to holding accountable fraudsters who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of vital taxpayer-funded programs upon which so many Americans rely."
Sweeney added that the ultimate goal is to stop people from committing fraud and see the money be utilized for the benefit of patients and instead of corrupt individuals.
"These investigations matter because the subjects are stealing money each and every one of us pay in taxes to fund these programs. What adds insult to injury, defrauding the government and stealing money is rarely about anything more than spending money on frivolous things like pricey jewelry and fast cars."
If the suspect is proven guilty, she risks going to prison for 10 years. In addition, her car, apartment and all that she got by malicious means will be returned. Federal authorities have long been fighting against scammers who try to make money off government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. In the United States, there are very strict rules about crimes that affect the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General New York Region (HHS-OIG).
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in 12 cities across the country, has charged nearly 4,000 defendants who have collectively cost the Medicare program more than $14 billion, according to the DOJ.