Hard line power wheelchair marketing tactics part of a Medicare fraud scheme.
A fugitive owner of a Los Angeles-based durable medical equipment (DME) company was sentenced to nine years in prison following a more than $1 million power wheelchair fraud case, announced a a Department of Justice press release on march 25.
Owner and operator of Pacific City Group Inc aka Pacific City Medical Equipment) will also serve three years of supervised release following his prison term, pay $526,243 in restitution and $25,000 in fines, and give up more than $526,000 in stolen Medicare funds.
In September 2008, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud as well as health care fraud. Since then he has fled and become a fugitive enemy of the government.
If we go by the DOJ, Nwafor submitted $1,109,438 in fraudulent claims to Medicare and as a result bagged $526,243 in payments. All claims were expensive, high-end power wheelchairs and wheelchair accessories that beneficiaries did not require.
The main scheme of Nwafor focused on recruiting beneficiaries through “marketers”, who approached potential recruits on the streets, community events, and at home. A witnessed claimed, the marketers either forced or paid these beneficiaries in order to take out Medicare information and get more referrals. Nwafor billed Medicare for power wheelchairs — at $7,000 each — on behalf of more than 170 beneficiaries who did not use them.
Nwafor and his co-conspirators did a great job to carry out their fundamental scheme. One witness testified that an individual purporting to be from Medicare, but who was actually connected with Nwafor threatened to do away with the Medicare benefits of the beneficiary and her husband unless they accepted two power wheelchairs that the beneficiary and her husband didn’t require.
He also made use of names of LA physicians on fake prescriptions which he portrayed to support his fraudulent claims to Medicare. His accomplice Ajibola Sadiqr had pleaded guilty.
The medicare fraud Strike Force (HEAT) looked after by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the US Attorney’s office for the Central District of California, is the reason behind the filing of the case against Nwafor. Since it started in 2007, the agency has gone after more than 500 individuals who have scammed Medicare for a total of around $1.1 billion.