Hospice care scam has FBI issuing warning after 'huge increase in complaints'

Samica Knight Image
Monday, April 29, 2024
How hospice care scams work and how to avoid them
The FBI is warning people about hospice care scams, in which fraudsters sign people up for lifesaving care without their knowledge.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Federal Bureau of Investigations is warning about a scam in which crooks sign people up for hospice care without their knowledge. The FBI has received numerous reports from victims in the Houston area about this costly scam.

"It's a little bit more egregious and distasteful than some of the other Medicare frauds we typically deal with," FBI Supervisory Special Agent Shannon Brady said. "We've had a huge increase in complaints."

Fraudsters are actually signing mostly elderly victims up for end-of-life hospice care when they don't need it and without the victim even knowing about it.

The victims' insurance is typically billed thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars before they're ever aware they're a victim.

"Typically, when something gets denied, they'll actually have a decline in health and try to get on hospice, and they can't get on a hospice they want because they're already on hospice with this company that's committing fraud," Brady said.

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She said this type of fraud can have long-lasting effects, including constant denial of lifesaving care when the victim is actually in need of hospice or other medical services. ABC13 asked the FBI about who was behind these types of schemes.

"It's obviously the company that's providing the fraudulent service, but usually there's a doctor involved that's also helping to commit the fraud, and also, usually sort of these folks that we refer to as recruiters," Brady said. "They'll call themselves marketers or sales reps or community liaisons, and they're really people who kind of help these fraudsters find the patients."

The FBI offered these tips on how to avoid this scam:

1. If the phone rings and someone on the other line is asking for personal or medical information, don't give it to them or confirm anything. You don't know them, and they don't need to know your personal information.

2. If you get those telemarketing calls, the FBI says to just hang up. And if this unfortunate situation happens to you or someone you know or love, call the FBI. They have agents in the office dedicated to health care fraud.

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