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Strike force arrests 38 in south Florida for Medicare fraud schemes

Thirty-eight people have been arrested in the first phase of a targeted criminal, civil and administrative effort against individuals and health care companies that fraudulently bill the Medicare program, government officials announced today.

The arrests in the Southern District of Florida are the result of the establishment of a multi-agency team of federal, state and local investigators designed specifically to combat Medicare fraud through the use of real-time analysis of Medicare billing data. Since the first phase of strike force operations began on March 1, 2007 in southern Florida, the strike force has obtained indictments of individuals and organizations that have collectively billed the Medicare program for $142 million.

All of the strike force cases to date target two primary schemes that defrauded the Medicare program – infusion therapy and durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers.

In one example, Eduardo Moreno, the owner of multiple DME companies, was arrested on April 7 after being named in a six-count indictment on fraud charges. Two of Moreno’s companies – Brenda Medical Supply Inc., and Faster Medical Equipment Inc. – allegedly billed Medicare for more than $1.9 million for services that were not medically necessary. The FBI has seized of some of Moreno’s assets, including a new Rolls Royce Phantom worth approximately $200,000.

“The landscape for fraud in south Florida has changed dramatically over the past two years. CMS has taken aggressive action to curb infusion therapy fraud and other organized fraud actions,” said Leslie Norwalk, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The strike force teams are led by a federal prosecutor supervised by both the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section in Washington and the office of U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta of the Southern District of Florida. Each team has four to six agents, at least one agent from the FBI and HHS Office of Inspector General, as well as representatives of local law enforcement. The teams operate out of the federal Health Care Fraud Facility in Miramar, Fla.

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