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Strike Forces: How The FBI Pursues Medicare Fraud

Miami and South Florida remain a central focus area in the FBI's war against healthcare fraud. A new press release from the FBI explains how it has relied on well-funded multi-office task forces to investigate and prosecute defendants here in Miami. That approach is working so well here that the authorities are expanding around the nation with similar teams.

One case, known as Operation Universal Fast Money, illustrates how law enforcement agencies can use the task force model to find and prosecute sophisticated Medicare fraud cases.

In Operation Universal Fast Money, a number of defendants used a complex scheme to make $70 million by submitting false bills to Medicare for health services. The fake services generally involved HIV infusion therapy treatment. These defendants, three of whom remain at large, used stolen identities and Medicare billing codes - always staying one step ahead of authorities.

However, the FBI eventually caught up with them by leveraging numerous resources from various law enforcement agencies through a combined task force model. This involved collaborative communication and combining different approaches like informants and search warrants. Ten of the participants are serving severe sentences in the case.

As the FBI said in a recent release, "The Florida model has been so successful that similar strike force teams have been established in Los Angeles, New York, and six other U.S. Cities. This past May, a nationwide takedown by the task force in seven cities resulted in charges against 107 individuals . . . for their participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving approximately $452 million in false billing."

Source: FBI Newsroom, "Operation Universal Fast Money: Putting the Brakes on Health Care Fraud," Nov. 5, 2012

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