Man charged with with billing for fraudulent test claims

Items from a COVID-19 check kit are shown for a photograph.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Federal prosecutors have criminally billed a Georgia person for allegedly conspiring to defraud federal and personal wellness-treatment gain programs “by submitting fraudulent testing statements” for coronavirus and genetic cancer screenings, authorities declared Monday.

The gentleman, 49-yr-outdated Erik Santos is accused in a complaint by the U.S. Attorney’s Business office of New Jersey of a person count of conspiring to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, and a one rely of conspiring to dedicate health care fraud. He faces up to 15 years in jail if convicted of both counts.

Prosecutors said that during a cellphone call on March 19 Santos stated how he considered the coronavirus outbreak as a possibility to make money.

“[W]hile there are people today likely by means of what they are likely via, you can both go bankrupt or you can prosper,” Santos reported on that phone, in accordance to prosecutors.

For the duration of the identical contact, prosecutors stated, “Santos famous that his other perform was on hold since ‘everybody has been chasing the Covid dollar fowl.’ “

Santos was arrested at his dwelling in Braselton, Ga., on Monday by FBI agents, and is scheduled to surface in Atlanta federal court docket later in the working day, according to authorities.

Santos’ alleged “scheme aimed to post extra than $1.1 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare,” according to a assertion from the U.S. Attorney’s Business office in New Jersey.

U.S. Lawyer Craig Carpenito in a assertion, “The grievance in this circumstance describes a defendant who noticed the spread of COVID-19 as almost nothing far more than an opportunity to earnings individually.”

“As the complaint alleges, he available kickbacks in trade for medically avoidable checks – including possibly tricky-to-acquire COVID-19 exams – so preying on people’s panic in order to defraud the authorities and make revenue for himself,” Carpenito explained.

Specific Agent-in-Charge Gregory Ehrie of FBI Newark stated, “This defendant not only allegedly defrauded the govt, he conspired to bilk his fellow citizens of a worthwhile resource that’s in significant demand from customers.”

“His profiteering is akin to getting blood dollars,” Ehrie said.

According to Carpenito’s office, “Santos ran a marketing organization that produced prospects to screening companies.”

“From November 2019 as a result of the present, Santos and other folks engaged in a big-scale scheme to defraud Medicare by soliciting and obtaining kickback payments from corporations concerned in medical and diagnostic testing in exchange for steering to people organizations people today eligible for testing that Medicare would reimburse,” the business office stated.

Prosecutors claim that Santos “agreed with some others to be compensated kickbacks on a for each-test foundation for publishing genetic cancer screening checks to diagnostic tests amenities, regardless of health-related necessity.” A genetic cancer screening is a diagnostic tool that tests for a genetic predisposition to cancer. Santos’ plan aimed to post far more than $1.1 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.

Prosecutors also claimed that as the coronavirus pandemic grew, Santos utilised it as an option “to increase his pre-current kickback strategies and to capitalize on a countrywide crisis for his personal monetary achieve.”

“Santos agreed with other individuals to be paid kickbacks on a for every-examination basis for COVID-19 checks, supplied that individuals exams were being bundled with a a great deal additional pricey respiratory pathogen panel (RPP) examination, which does not establish or take care of COVID-19,” the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Workplace reported in a statement.

“Santos sought to optimize his kickback revenue and to bleed federal well being care resources at a time when Medicare beneficiaries throughout the United States had been in dire need to have of coverage for medical remedy and companies.”

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