For first time ever, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) is publishing a list, complete with the mug shots below, of HealthCare’s “10 Most Wanted Fugitives,” individuals who have allegedly defrauded taxpayers of more than $126.6 million. These are just 10 of the more than 170 fugitives on OIG’s list, and it is asking the public to help: “For OIG, tracking more than 170 health care fugitives is a challenge. If you have a tip about a featured most-wanted fugitive, send the information our way.”
If you go to the webpage of mug shots and click on the photos, you’ll find a brief bio and details of the fugitive’s crime.
For instance, consider Tarek Wehbe: Between January 2002 and January 2007, Wehbe, a physician, allegedly submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance carriers in order to obtain reimbursement for services that were either not provided, medically unnecessary, and/or over-charged.
“Wehbe allegedly perpetrated this fraud through the Renaissance Medical Group (RMG), based in Providence, Rhode Island, of which Wehbe was the president and owner. Health insurance carriers reimbursed RMG over $1.8 million by either depositing payments into RMG's bank account or sending reimbursement checks to RMG through the mail .
“These funds were deposited into and transferred between Wehbe's personal bank accounts and those of RMG, which he controlled. Wehbe allegedly laundered money through an account in a foreign country.
“Also, on more than 100 occasions, Wehbe allegedly issued prescriptions for controlled substances, such as Oxycodone and Hydrocodone, without medical justification.”
Then there are the sisters–who managed to scoop up more than $4 million while running an infusion therapy clinic.
Clara and Caridad Guilarte were captured in Colombia on March 13, 2011.Along with previously captured co-conspirator Reynel Betancourt, the Guilartes allegedly defrauded Medicare of nearly $4.3 million (and submitted $9.1 million in false and fraudulent claims), according to a Federal indictment.
“The Guilartes operated the Dearborn Medical and Rehabilitation Center (DMRC), an infusion therapy clinic in Michigan, where Betancourt was an employee.
“All three fugitives allegedly committed health care fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering. The trio allegedly recruited and paid cash and other inducements to Medicare beneficiaries to visit DMRC and sign forms indicating that they received legitimate medical services, including injections and infusions of expensive medications, although the services allegedly were never provided.
“All three are originally from Cuba: Clara Guilarte is a U.S. citizen, and Caridad Guilarte and Betancourt are permanent U.S. residents.”
Office of Inspector General: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services