Feds take down $1 billion Medicare fraud scheme in ‘Operation Brace Yourself’
– Adiel Kaplan, Jay Blackman, Tom Costello and Sarah Ploss
April 9, 2019
Investigators uncovered the sprawling plot that targeted elderly and disabled people by setting them up with back, neck and knee braces that they didn’t need, according to federal prosecutors.
Called Operation Brace Yourself, the investigation discovered that medical brace manufacturers were allegedly paying kickbacks and bribes to doctors working with fraudulent telemedicine companies in exchange for Medicare patient referrals for medically unnecessary braces.
The ill-gotten gains were then laundered through international shell companies and used to buy exotic cars, yachts and luxury real estate in the United States and overseas, prosecutors said.
“The taxpayers should be outraged by this,” Gary Cantrell, who oversees fraud investigations for the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office, said in an interview with NBC News. “These are losses to the Medicare program that we all, as taxpayers, fund.”