In this photo provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, HHS Office of Inspector General agents, take part in arrests Tuesday, April 9, 2019, in Queens, N.Y., as they break up a billion-dollar Medicare scam that peddled unneeded orthopedic braces to hundreds of thousands of seniors nationwide, using a network of foreign call centers. (Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General via AP)

Feds say $1.2B Medicare back brace scam busted

April 09, 2019 - 12:12 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities say they've broken up a $1.2 billion Medicare scam that peddled unneeded orthopedic braces to hundreds of thousands of seniors via foreign call centers.

The Justice Department announced charges Tuesday against 24 people in the U.S., including doctors accused of writing bogus prescriptions for unneeded back, shoulder, wrist and knee braces. Others charged include owners of telemedicine firms and medical equipment companies.

The Health and Human Services inspector general's office says the fast-moving scam morphed into multiple related schemes. Officials say it's one of the biggest frauds the office has investigated.

Charges were being brought against defendants in California, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

The fraudulent call centers were based in the Philippines and throughout Latin America.

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