California Resident Found Guilty of Healthcare Fraud in South Carolina
A man from California has been found guilty in Columbia, SC for healthcare fraud and money laundering in connection with a “ghost” medical clinic he set up in South Carolina, which filed more than $1 million in fraudulent Medicare claims.
Karo Gotti Blkhoyan, a.k.a. “Gotti,” 34, of Glendale, California, was sentenced to 5 years in prison; officially, 57 months with three years’ supervised release.
He was one of the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Top 10 Most Wanted for the serious healthcare fraud he committed. It is believed that he is one member of a transnational organization that exists to defraud US federal programs of money and move the money to other organizations around the globe.
The “ghost” clinic used information stolen from a South Carolina doctor to register the Medicare codes. The criminal organization that Blkhoyan worked for set up the clinic with a South Carolina PO Box, registered the fictitious clinic with the South Carolina Secretary of State’s office, registered bank accounts with the fraudulent address, and applied to accept Medicare payments. Once the basis of the business was set up, the group began to file Medicare claims for patients that do not exist.
The group fraudulently billed Medicare for $1.1 million, of which Medicare paid $350,000. The money was laundered through banks in Southern California.
“Healthcare fraud is undoubtedly a lucrative business, but the business of IRS Criminal Investigation and our law enforcement partners, is to pursue criminals such as Karo Blkhoyan, and bring them to justice, no matter where they may attempt to hide.” said Thomas J. Holloman, III, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation.
“Blkhoyan’s sentence is a warning to others that would defraud Medicare and steal from the programs that provide assistance for individuals in need. We will investigate every dollar, every fraudulent claim, and when you are found, you will go to prison.”
“When the rich take things that don’t belong to them they want us to call it fraud. But let’s be clear, it is stealing, it is wrong and against the law. He stole from all of us. We will continue to aggressively prosecute those who steal from us. Let there be no doubt about that,” US Attorney Bill Nettles said.
During his trial, Blkhoyan challenged his alleged role in the healthcare fraud as a conspirator, but evidence presented by the prosecution showed that he was a “supervisor/manager” of the healthcare fraud conspiracy.
Healthcare Fraud Is Expensive for Government and Victims
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, healthcare fraud costs the United States an estimated $80 billion per year. As the costs of healthcare go up, and national healthcare spending surpasses $2.7 trillion, it is more important than ever to report Medicare, Medicaid, and healthcare fraud.
- Here are some scams to watch out for that might make you, your insurance company, or Medicare/Medicaid, the victims of healthcare fraud:
- Medical Equipment Fraud: Equipment manufacturers offer “free” products to individuals. Insurers are then charged for products that were not needed and/or may not have been delivered.
- “Rolling Lab” Schemes: Unnecessary and sometimes fake tests are given to individuals at health clubs, retirement homes, or shopping malls and billed to insurance companies or Medicare.
- Services Not Performed: Customers or providers bill insurers for services never rendered by changing bills or submitting fake ones.
The Strom Law Firm Protects Healthcare Fraud Whistleblowers
If you believe that you have witnessed healthcare fraud, Medicare or Medicaid fraud, or another form of conspiracy to defraud the government, contact the qui tam attorneys at the Strom Law Firm today. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the evidence you have, so contact us for help. 803.252.4800