U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara outlines massive Medicare fraud case
This is one sick scam.
An Armenian-American organized crime ring was charged in Manhattan today with a $100 million Medicare fraud scheme, authorities said.
FBI agents arrested the suspects -- part of a group known as the Mirzoyan-Terdjanian Organization -- in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and Atlanta, saying some have links to an Armenian organized crime gang.
"In terms of profitability, geographic scope, and sheer ambition, the elaborate health care scam we charge today highlights the emerging and serious threat of international organized crime," said Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara.
"With 118 phantom clinics and over $100 million in bogus billings, this group of international gangsters allegedly ran a veritable fraud franchise. As charged, they stole taxpayer dollars earmarked for the elderly and infirm and got away with it, until now."
The suspects allegedly stole the identities of both doctors and patients and set up fake clinics.
Among the defendants charged with racketeering is Armen Kazarian -- known as "Pzo" --who is alleged to be a "Vor," a term translated as "Thief-in-Law."
The term “Vor” refers to a member of a select group of high-level criminals from Russia and the countries that had been part of the former Soviet Union, including Armenia, according to the feds.
Kazarian was busted in LA, marking the first time someone in his position has ever been charged and arrested for federal racketeering crimes.
The feds said the suspects used the names to submit about $100 million in claims and got back more than $35 million from Medicare.
The feds said the scheme involved over 100 fake healthcare providers in about 25 states.
"Thousands of patient identities were stolen and manipulated to generate millions of dollars in bogus Medicare claims," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "From Coney Island to California, these suspects bilked the health care system for procedures never performed or needed, but as a result of this investigation police and federal authorities have handed these suspects a true prescription for justice."