From the “just when you think you’ve seen it all” category comes a story from the New York Daily News detailing a California-based doctor’s attempts to bilk the state’s Medi-Cal system out of millions of dollars…by faking his own death! This story would be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragically true. Just last week, we blogged about the fact that fraudsters in Utah were robbing Medicaid via fake prescriptions from doctors who had already passed on. But that story may have been “one upped” here.
Certainly, the manipulation of an individual’s identity once he/she has died is both cruel and morbid. But a medical professional faking his own death in order to become a millionaire is simply unconscionable. Such is the story of Tigran Svadjian, who arrived in New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport this past July after being found in Egypt. He was then transported back to California in order to face charges of defrauding Medi-Cal of $2.4 million.
Oh, and let’s not forget that Svadjian had been pretending that he was dead since 2002! As John Marzulli reports, the dishonest doctor had apparently died of pneumonia and had his remains cremated 14 years ago. This information was passed along to the U.S. Embassy on October 24, 2002 following a purported trip to Russia where Svadjian was supposedly visiting his sick mother. His life has been quite different since then.
According to Marzulli, Svadjian had been living in Egypt for the past decade, where he had been working as – get this – a part-time scuba instructor. Apparently, his capture came as a result of his attempt to use a fake Lithuanian passport to travel to Russia in order to visit his pregnant girlfriend. “Svadjian told FBI agents in Egypt that a police officer in Russia had helped him fake his death for a ‘service fee’ of $200,” reveals Marzulli.
Not to be outdone, a Pennsylvania doctor has apparently been convicted as part of the “largest national Medicare fraud takedown in history”! So says Alex Rose of the Delaware County Daily Times, who writes of Stephen A. Monaco – a 59 year-old podiatrist who plead guilty of defrauding Medicare, Medicaid and four private victim insurance companies of approximately $5 million.
And while Monaco didn’t fake his own death, the owner of A Foot Above Podiatry Inc. had been submitting numerous false claims between January 2008 and October 2014. As Rose explains, the claims included podiatric procedures that were neither provided nor performed. Injections, removal of dead, infected or foreign material and nail removals were among them. As a result, Monaco now faces up to 10 years in prison and will be forced to pay $5 million in restitution, fines and criminal forfeiture.
As a condition of his plea, he will also be surrendering his medical license. “The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Office of Personnel Management and the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board Office of Inspector General as part of a massive fraud crackdown earlier this year,” Rose reports.
Perhaps, we should no longer be surprised that such extreme measures are taken to commit Medicare and Medicaid fraud in the United States. Nevertheless, the team at Allegiant Experts continues to be amazed at the lengths that some people will go to. This is why we go to great lengths to put fraudsters in their rightful places – behind bars.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about how our team of clinical experts can assist you in your court cases against fraudsters. Give us a call at 407-217-5831.