Federal officials said Tuesday that they had dismantled a $1.2 billion Medicare scheme that spanned continents and ensnared hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting elderly and disabled patients.
Under the scheme, which the authorities described as one of the largest health care frauds in United States history, doctors prescribed back, shoulder, wrist and knee braces that were not needed, prosecutors said. Twenty-four people were charged, according to the Justice Department.
“These defendants — who range from corporate executives to medical professionals — allegedly participated in an expansive and sophisticated fraud to exploit telemedicine technology meant for patients otherwise unable to access health care,” Brian Benczkowski, the assistant attorney general for the department’s criminal division, said in a statement.
Some of the accused were owners of durable medical equipment companies that paid kickbacks and bribes to doctors to write prescriptions for braces that were medically unnecessary, according to the authorities.