COVID Crimes and Criminals Part Two of a Two-Part Series
Since March of this year, the US government has created flexible economic and public health policies in an effort to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible. In addition to providing economic relief to its citizens, the US government has relaxed the healthcare system’s previously stringent regulatory requirements. Unfortunately, these quick-fix policies have had unintended consequences, where criminally minded individuals are identifying and seizingan opportunity to profit off of the fear that many are experiencing as a result of the pandemic.
The individuals committing these crimes can be divided into two categories: those who prey on consumer fear through medical testing scams and those who manipulate the health care system to commit health insurance billing fraud.
The US Department of Health and Human Services, FDA, FBI, and several local leaders have issued statements denouncing the exploitative nature of these crimes, specifically those committed against innocent consumers. Having seen the scope and scale of these crimes, federal and local law enforcement are already taking steps to apprehend and prosecute these opportunistic criminals.
Medical Testing Fraud
The internet andsocial media have made the perpetration of scams and fraud easier. Now, scammers can steal consumers’ personal information and money from thousands of miles away. Worse, they have found creative ways to manipulate the fear consumers are experiencing during the pandemic; from counterfeit COVID testing to disinformation and fake products and cures.
The global community is working tirelessly to find a cure to COVID, and will continue to fight the spread of the disease. Any product or service that is marketed as the cure or quick-fix for COVID is not federally-approved and could actually have negative impacts.
We have seen the ways white-collar criminals have profited from consumer susceptibility. During these difficult times, they are targeting
individuals who are afraid and don’t know any better. For this reason, the best way to avoid falling victim is to stay cautious and informed.
Health Insurance Billing Fraud
The pandemic has placed immense pressure on our healthcare system to provide access to adequate treatment and care. In an effort to ease the burden, the federal government has relaxed insurance regulations and policies. While the vast majority of providers will use this flexibility responsibly, leniency will leave the federal government more susceptible to providers who are looking for a pay-day.
Due to the turbulent nature of the pandemic, the federal government has yet to prosecutefraudulent providers. However, reports of health insurance billing fraud by healthcare providers are on the rise and the federal government will need to take action soon. If you received medical treatment during the pandemic, be sure to review your health insurance bill closely to ensure that you are not being billed for treatments you did not receive.
Our team of attorneys has over 100 years of experience and is fully equipped to represent those who fall victim to these opportunistic crimes. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
Written by: Guy Fronstin, Tiffany Monroy