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Medicare scam artist faces hard time

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In Los Angeles, a federal court convicted a Fresno woman accused of recruiting seniors to file fraudulent Medicare claims. The jury found 57-year-old Maria Nela Moreno guilty of six counts of health care fraud.

Evidence presented at trial showed that Moreno met with groups of seniors and went door to door at low-income senior living communities in the towns of Sanger and Parlier, near Fresno, California. Wearing a badge with her picture on it, which seniors said resembled a hospital identification badge, Moreno then pressured seniors to apply for expensive power wheelchairs which they did not need.

Victims in the scam testified that Moreno told them they should apply for a wheelchair now because if they waited until they needed one, Medicare might run out of money and they would unable to obtain one. Moreno then used a portable scanner to copy identification cards and Medicare insurance numbers used in the scam. Each of the wheelchairs resulted in a $6,000 fraudulent claim.

The scam involved a fraudulent medical clinic in Los Angeles, which wrote prescriptions for the wheelchairs. The prescriptions were then sold to durable medical equipment supply companies in and around Los Angeles. Moreno then received a payment for each wheelchair the companies were able to bill to Medicare.

For her part in the scam, Moreno faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count for which she was convicted.


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