New scam, with traffic accidents

About two dozen New York City residents have been arrested in connection with insurance fraud after claiming to have injuries from fake accidents and collecting money from Medicaid and Medicare.

According to Vecherniy New York,

Half of those charged with faking traffic accidents in insurance scams worth millions of dollars came from former USSR countries.

They include doctors, medical staff and patients who faked insurance claims to collect an estimated $50,000 per patient. The patients were

instructed on how to fake injuries and get treatment for nonexistent fractures and slipped discs.

The defendants allegedly stole millions from Medicare, Medicaid and private medical and car insurance companies over three years.

Their bank accounts were frozen, Vecherniy New York says, citing an unnamed attorney. If found guilty,

the suspects in the scam could face additional charges, including tax evasion for failing to declare the illegal income. And the “patients” would have to return cash they got from swindlers and pay for deceiving car insurance companies and the government.

Additional charges were filed against a medical equipment company, owned by two Russian immigrants, that forged prescriptions and doctors’ signatures for wheelchairs and other equipment.

Though the company was subsidized by the government, it has never provided medical equipment to patients, real or fabricated. In several cases swindlers forged signatures of doctors and patients, some of whom were offered cash for providing their Medicare numbers and personal information.

The scammers could face up to 20 years in prison, depending on their involvement.

But the Russian-language news outlet complained about the way the New York Post singled out the Russians charged in the scam. The Post called the accused the “Russian Outfit,” leading Vecherniy New York to ask:

Would the newspaper headline a story on the arrest of Latin American New Yorkers by referring to a “Puerto Rican” or “Dominican” criminal establishment?

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