Authorities in New York have uncovered a rather large healthcare fraud scheme that stole more than $2 million from taxpayer funded insurance providers such as Medicaid, reports NJ.com. The perpetrators have been convicted as of this past Monday.
Luis Omar Vargas, 46, was practicing dentistry completely unlicensed, stated federal authorities and Geoffrey S. Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Berman spoke with reporters, notifying the public of Vargas’ crimes.
“Vargas and others induced patients to be seen at (the dental office) by offering patients a $25 cash kickback. Once the patients were in the door, Vargas and his co-conspirators charged insurance companies for services that were never performed and for services performed by Vargas that he was not licensed to perform.”
The office where Luis Omar Vargas worked was Dental Express Broadway on 161st Street in Manhattan. When patients entered the dental office, they would received only minor dental procedures, reports state. After the work was complete, Vargas’ receptionist would hand the patient $25. This receptionist has been identified as 60-year-old Anna Jones. After the patients left, Jones would bill the individual insurance companies for more expensive dental work, which was never actually performed on the patients. This scam went on for close to six years before being discovered in November, 2017. Some patients were even requested to recruit other Medicaid recipients.
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Vargas, Jones, and Mehmet Dikengil were all three arrested in New York for healthcare fraud charges.
The three will face sentencing on April 5, 2019. Both Jones and Dikengil have already pleaded guilty to the fraud charges, stated the attorney’s office. This is following the recent two-week-long trial which ended December 14, 2018, just barely a year after the initial arrests.
Reports also state that Dikengil is 70-years-old and is actually a licensed dentist. He was responsible for providing the $25 kickback to patients. These paybacks were placed inside envelopes and given to Jones for distribution.
Vargas has been convicted of healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, as well as conspiracy to violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Vargas could be looking at a possible 25-year prison sentence in April.
According to Healthy Connections, Medicaid scams are “becoming more common throughout the country, and often prey upon elderly and disabled residents for the purposes of identity theft or to fraudulently purchase goods.”