Articles Posted in Fraud

Setting up a Pay Pal account for donations and using her Facebook page to publicize her idea a Bronx, New York woman allegedly set a fraudulent scam into motion claiming to be the aunt of one of the children slain in the Newtown, Connecticut. School massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

On Thursday the FBI arrested Nouel Alba, 37, for allegedly amassing fraudulent “funeral fund” donations for one of the children killed in the Newtown school bloodbath; fictitiously claiming that she was the child’s aunt.

She was charged with making false statements to federal agents. She then faced a U.S. magistrate in Hartford, Connecticut, who released her on a $50,000 bond. The penalty of such a conviction could have her face a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to the FBI, Alba used her Facebook page, as well as telephone and text messages to ask for donations for the purported “funeral fund” of 6-year-old Noah Pozner, who was the first child to be buried of the twenty children and six adults massacred on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct.

The complaint against her charges that she instructed potential targets to donate money to a PayPal account which was controlled and accessed by her. When she was contacted by FBI Special Agents who were in charge of scrutinizing fundraising scams associated with the Newtown tragedy, Alba untruthfully specified that she did not post any material related to the Newtown events on her Facebook account or solicit any donations. She also stated to them that she did not access her PayPal account at all recently. In spite of the preceding statement, Alba went on to tell agents that she immediately refunded any donations that she did receive.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Kimberly Mertz was quoted as saying “It is unconscionable to think that the families of the victims in Newtown and a sympathetic community looking to provide them some sort of financial support and comfort have become the targets of criminals.” She went on to comment “Today’s arrest is a stern message that the FBI will investigate and bring to justice those who perpetrate Internet fundraising scams, especially those scams that exploit the most vulnerable in their time of shared sorrow.”

Apparently, Alba is not a novice to these types of scams. According to The New York Post Alba also posted messages on the Web claiming she had founded numerous charities to help storm victims in the days after Hurricane Sandy hit.

But it turned out that the postings were packed with deceitful claims, as well as an invalid tax-ID number for one of the so called charitable organizations.

Later in the week during an interview with CNN before her arrest, Alba denied being involved in any scams whatsoever.
Alba’s latest alleged swindle was uncovered when NBC News reported last week that the ploy initiated within an hour from the time that the shootings took place. They said that a woman wrote on her Facebook page, “All we know is 18 kids have been killed … still no word on my nephew.”

NBC traced the Facebook account to Alba, and then went to her home and recorded an audio interview with her in which she denied writing the post as well as any requests for charitable contributions on her Facebook page.

“I’m disgusted by it,” the slain boy’s uncle, Alexis Haller, expressed to NBC News. “I think it’s disgusting behavior.”

Federal and state authorities “are actively monitoring the Internet and investigating multiple fundraising scams” stemming from the killings according to U.S. Attorney David Fein.

Alba’s broadly disseminated photograph was posted on the Scrapbook Stamp Society website on Friday but according to Sherri Baldy, owner and CEO, she is not associated with the organization as anything more than what she labeled a “crafter”. Alba joined the organization about a year ago but has not been active for most of the time, Baldy said.

Related Reading: Common Fraud Schemes (FBI Website)
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South Florida healthcare professionals including doctors and nurses were detained and charged with submitting fraudulent claims to Medicare; totaling in excess of two-hundred million dollars.

Federal judge Peter Palermo set bail on most of the defendants between $100,000 and $150,000 each. A total of 33 South Florida health care professionals were arrested as part of the ongoing federal investigation.

In federal court one of the accused members of the group seemed confused, saying to Palermo “I don’t even know what I’m charged with.” Palermo told him, “You’re charged in a conspiracy to receive health care kickbacks.” Some of the defendants will face a hearing on Friday. .

Also in Miami, Federal authorities said that three people were arrested at LTC Professional Consultants and charged in a scheme to swindle the system. Authorities said that another nearby Miami based healthcare facility; Professional Homecare Solutions was involved with fraudulent billing for home health care; totaling in excess of 74 million dollars.

Another facility: Hollywood Pavilion, a psychiatric hospital, was also said to have been involved in $67 million of suspected fraudulent billing. Five people affiliated with the hospital, including its chief executive officer, were charged in this case, one of the nation’s largest strikes ever against Medicare fraud. The defendants allegedly fraudulently billed Medicare paying bribes and kickbacks to patient brokers, then creating false documents to cover their tracks.

Medicare scams involving medical equipment and physical therapy has prospered in South Florida for years, making the area a national focus for Medicare exploitation.

At a press conference on Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder said the case revealed an alarming trend of criminal attempts to steal billions of taxpayer dollars Holder labeled Thursday’s action against Medicare fraud one of the largest of its kind.
“The total includes over $230 million in home health care fraud, more than $100 million in mental health care fraud, and approximately $49 million in ambulance transportation fraud.

“Thanks to the outstanding work of federal authorities – and the assistance of state and local partners – as of today, most of these individuals have been arrested or surrendered,” Holder said.

“Such an act not only takes precious resources but it drives up health care costs and affects the strength of Medicare,” Holder said. “And it disproportionately victimizes some of the most vulnerable people in our society: the elderly and impoverished Americans.”

“Many of those arrested violated the sacred oath they took to be medical practitioners,” said Holder.

Holder further went on to say that the federal government was determined to be very aggressive in its ongoing crackdown on Medicare fraud.

The arrests revealed were a share of a nationwide take down of Medicare fraud suspects in Baton Rouge, La, Brooklyn, N.Y, Chicago, IL, Dallas and Houston, TX as well as Los Angeles, CA. More than 60 medical professionals were arrested in the operation and allegedly responsible for more than a total of $429 million in fraudulent claims. A federal strike force charged more than 90 people in total.

In addition to Thursday’s arrests, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius mentioned that her agency used new authority under the federal health care law to stop future payments to many of the health care providers suspected of fraud.

She unwaveringly stated that the arrests target “criminal enterprises that have been lining their pockets with funds from the Medicare trust fund.”

“We’ve taken down enterprises that in some cases have been robbing taxpayers for years,” she said.

This week’s Medicare fraud bust follows another colossal takedown in May, when officials arrested more than 100 people and charged them with defrauding the government of more than $450 million.

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