Is Fraud Increasing Here and Elsewhere?

Is Fraud Increasing Here and Elsewhere?

Am I just more attuned to news about criminal activity or, in fact, are fraud and other criminal acts escalating in the United States?

For example, New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced today the arrest of six home health care workers in New York City and Westchester who are accused of defrauding the New York State Medicaid Program. Among the felonies with which they are charged are identity theft, grand larceny and possession of forged documents for faking home-health care credentials and submitting false billings for services that were never rendered.

A former South Jersey financial adviser, who pleaded guilty in federal court to securities fraud in connection with a $41.2 million Ponzi scheme, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison last week. Everett Miller, who ran Carr Miller Capital LLC in Marlton, NJ, also was ordered to pay more than $22 million in restitution.

An ambulance passenger entered a guilty plea in the federal government's ongoing probe of eight Philadelphia-area ambulance companies charged with filing fraudulent claims that have cost the Medicare program more than $18 million in the past five years. The owner of Philadelphia-based Brotherly Love Ambulance, Inc., which the passenger used, was sentenced to 64 months in prison last year for her role in bilking Medicare of more than $2 million in inappropriate claims.

In May, the owners of two South Jersey MRI facilities pleaded guilty to paying more than $30,000 to a doctor for patient referrals. According to charges brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the owners of Positioned Imaging Associates in Toms River and Tilton Dynamic Imaging in Northfield agreed to pay referrals that resulted in more than $115,000 in Medicare payments to their MRI companies,. The investigation was led by the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) director, Richard Cordray, has issued a decision that Mount Laurel, NJ-based mortgage lender PHH Corp. illegally took kickbacks in exchange for referring consumers to mortgage insurers. He ordered the company to pay $109 million, which is all of the reinsurance premiums it received on or after July 21, 2008, when it is accused of starting to take the kickbacks. PHH has steadfastly denied taking kickbacks since the CFPB initiated the administrative proceeding in January 2014.

Then there is the lawsuit filed against the Cancer Fund of America, the Children's Cancer Fund of America, the Breast Cancer Society and Cancer Support Services by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and legal representatives from all 50 states and the District of Columbia for allegedly scamming donors of millions of dollars in donations. Several of the directors, operators and business associates of the charities also were charged in the scheme, which allegedly raised about $187 million in donations (see "Four Cancer Charities Charged with Scamming Donors of Millions of Dollars").

And let's not forget the major banks that once again committed fraud on an international scale and were fined billions of dollars — with no one going to jail for their criminal acts (see "Five Global Banks Plead Guilty to Manipulating Foreign Exchange Rates").

I wish there was something positive to say in ending this story, but I can't think of anything at the moment. Money seems to have corrupted our system in a variety of ways and its pursuit has led even "good men" to do bad things. We would like to hear your views on this situation.

Beau Weisman, Editor