Feds say $1.2B Medicare back brace scam busted

The J. Edgar Hoover Building of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is seen on April 03, 2019 in Washington, DC. - The FBI is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States, and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Federal authorities say they’ve broken up a $1.2 billion Medicare scam that peddled unneeded orthopedic braces to hundreds of thousands of seniors via foreign call centers.

The Justice Department announced charges Tuesday against 24 people in the U.S., including doctors accused of writing bogus prescriptions for unneeded back, shoulder, wrist and knee braces. Others charged include owners of telemedicine firms and medical equipment companies.

The Health and Human Services inspector general’s office says the fast-moving scam morphed into multiple related schemes. Officials say it’s one of the biggest frauds the office has investigated.

Charges were being brought against defendants in California, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

The fraudulent call centers were based in the Philippines and throughout Latin America.

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