Wire fraud involves the use of electronic communications, such as the internet or telephone, to cheat or deceive someone out of money or property. An example of wire fraud is phishing scams. This is where a scammer sends an email or text message pretending to be a legitimate business or individual in order to trick the recipient into giving away personal information or money.
The “Nigerian prince” scam is another common example of wire fraud. This is where a scammer claims to be a wealthy individual in need of help transferring money out of a foreign country in exchange for a large sum of money. Wire fraud can also involve hacking into someone's computer or email account to steal money or sensitive information. It is a federal crime and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
A Michigan woman was recently convicted for committing wire fraud.
As reported by the Eastern District of Michigan branch of the United States Department of Justice, 23 year-old Suzan Berro was convicted this past Friday. The Dearborn resident was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. The charges were related to her participation in a multi-year scheme to obtain more than $65 million from numerous pharmaceutical co-pay assistance programs.
Berro was found guilty after a six-day trial. Her sentencing is scheduled for May 1, 2023. She faces a maximum of twenty years in prison for each count. As the court documents presented during the trial showed, Berro engaged submitted numerous fraudulent reimbursement claims.
Berro created fake prescriptions for fake patients.
Known as “coupon” programs, the co-pay assistance programs assist real patients with the often-high costs associated with name brand prescription drugs. Evidence proved that Berro created bogus prescriptions for people who didn’t even exist. For nearly a full year, she billed multiple pharmacies for these fake scripts.
To pull off her scam, Berro took addresses from real estate lists. She made up names and birth dates, selected expensive name brands and then paired them with real doctors’ names and credentials. Evidently, Berro took great measures to make her fictional patients appear real. For example, she ensured that all three addresses - the real doctor, the fake pharmacy and the made-up patient - were in close geographic proximity.
Witness testimony revealed that most of the pharmacies weren’t legitimate.
The trial unveiled the fact that the majority of pharmacies listed in Berro’s claims only existed on paper. They never opened to the public and never ordered inventory. “In total, Berro and her co-conspirators submitted fraudulent claims on behalf of more than 40 pharmacies, totaling over $65 million,” confirms the DoJ report.
U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison made the announcement about Berro’s conviction yesterday. She had this to say about the case: “This was a complicated scheme that abused dozens of programs established to help those who are legitimately unable to afford their medications. Our office will continue to investigate and unravel these schemes, and will we vigorously pursue those who are responsible.”
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