BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) -A scheme targeting seniors is happening all around the country where scammers oftentimes show up at health fairs or assisted living facilities offering free genetic DNA tests. Seniors are also receiving calls about it.
"They called me yesterday and wanted to send me a kit for a cancer screening and they told me they’d tell me if I was going to have cancer,” that’s Leona Frank, who recently received a call.
The test consists of a swab of the cheek then they’ll ask for your Medicare information. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently issued a warning saying the fraud occurs when Medicare is billed for a test or screening that was not medically necessary and not ordered by a doctor.
"I called Medicare and Medicaid both and they said, they would not pay for it. It was a scam,” Frank said.
"We have multiple states that have issued warnings about this. We are seeing it more and more,” Angela Guth with the Better Business Bureau said.
In a recent Louisiana case, federal prosecutors said a company and its owner defrauded the government out of more than $127 million. The Department of Justice said the company billed patients’ Medicare accounts for tests they didn’t need. In return, the DOJ said the labs took a cut of the money and returned it to the marketers and tele-doctors who approved the test.
Leona's son did some research and has some advice especially if you take care of one of your parents.
"You just got to be vigilant, be careful. With the Capital One breach on the password, all that, mom is one of them as well, so I guess she’s twice as likely for that to happen. My dad is no longer here, so I’m here to help her and watch over her and make sure it doesn’t happen to other people,” Michael Frank, who takes care of his mother said.
The Better Business Bureau offers this simple advice.
"Don't fall victim to it, don't give out your personal information,” Guth said.
We’re told that Louisiana case is a part of a massive, nationwide Medicare fraud sting that resulted in over 30 similar indictments and cost the Medicare program more than $2 billion in unnecessary charges. In some cases, the DOJ said the doctors had never met the patients they supposedly approved the tests for.