Mikhail Zemlyansky of Hewlett, L.I., also known as 'Russian Mike,' was branded the 'top fraudster' by authorities.
Two NYPD cops posing as car-accident victims helped bust a ring of Russian-American scammers who bilked $113 million from insurers with bogus clinics, the feds said Wednesday.
Authorities called it the biggest no-fault insurance fraud case in history, more audacious in breadth and complexity than other similar schemes.
Ten doctors and three lawyers were among three dozen people charged with working for masterminds with nicknames like “Russian Mike,” “Fat Mike” and “Skinny Mike.”
Prosecutors said the ringleaders set up more than 100 clinics around the city to exploit the no-fault law — which allots $50,000 in medical benefits to every crash victim.
“They turned that law on its head,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
The suspects billed for $275 million in tests and treatment of phantom or minor injuries, and they funnelled patients to lawyers for trumped-up civil suits.
“The accidents were real,” said the FBI’s New York director, Janice Fedarcyk. “The injuries claimed were not.”
They paid off doctors to act as a front for the mills, runners to recruit patients from accident scenes, and money launderers to cash checks, officials said.
The patients got little: a $500 fee, the promise of a possible $10,000 insurance settlement, and X-rays, MRIs, and therapy — all unnecessary.
The ringleaders got rich, raiding clinic coffers to pay for vacations to Mexico and Atlantic City, shopping sprees at Louis Vuitton and Saks, fancy jewelry, prosecutors said.
Authorities said the top fraudster was Mikhail Zemlyansky, also known as “Russian Mike,” who lived in Hewlett, one of the tony Five Towns of Long Island.
Below him was an octopus-like network built on greed and corruption.
Central to the operation were the runners, who found the patients and coached them on how to describe their injuries to maximize the type of treatment they would get.
“The runners were literally ambulance chasers, often finding victims at scenes of accidents, hospitals or word of mouth,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
The runners got $2,000 to $3,000 for each patient they found. Lawyers paid the cabal $1,000 for each person that was referred for a lawsuit against the insurance company.
The doctors who loaned their names to the clinic got $10,000 a month just to show up and sign paperwork, including referrals to speciality clinics controlled by the group, prosecutors said.
The scheme was blown open when the NYPD assigned two undercover cops to pose as accident victims and become patients at the clinic.
“Like thousands of other supposed fender-bender victims, they submitted to dozens of treatments and tests they didn’t need,” Kelly said.
After an 18-month probe, the suspects were rounded up in raids early Wednesday. Arraignments were expected to last several hours.
“We believe this is the single largest no-fault insurance fraud case in history,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.