Randy Meier

Randy Meier

Seniors Vs. Crime Columnist

I am going to keep hammering away on the Medicare fraud theme — there seems to be a lot of it! 

I wrote about Medicare fraud in the form of telemarketing calls offering free orthotic braces, and even some folks receiving unordered boxes of braces. That particular scheme drew a lot of law enforcement attention, with an investigation that revealed $1.2 billion in fraudulent charges to Medicare.

So, we can’t be faulted for maybe relaxing our guard just a little, thinking, “Well, that problem is under control.” But it’s not. The Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol, whose job is to get a handle on fraud and keep us informed on the subject, issued a warning about another scheme offering “free” Medicare services.

This involves DNA testing. DNA makes the news very frequently, with new uses of DNA profiles developed almost monthly. A fairly recent discovery showed some forms of cancer successfully treated with therapies specifically designed for an individual patient, guided by that patient’s unique genome. This kind of treatment is still exceedingly rare, and used only on a very limited range of cancers.

Even so, that’s just enough truthful information to generate another Medicare fraud scheme. Senior Medicare Patrol warned of sketchy companies using telemarketing, and direct marketing, directed at senior citizens, offering DNA tests, and charging them to Medicare. The telemarketers call people and offer these tests, in exchange for the patient’s Medicare number. The direct marketers visit senior citizen housing, or community events, and offer on the spot DNA testing, charged to Medicare. Some reports even show the DNA testers offering cash to patients to sign up. 

Here’s what you need to know about Medicare and DNA:

• Medicare does not cover genetic testing as a screening tool or prevention benefit. Medicare only pays for DNA testing in rare circumstances, where it is medically necessary for treatment or diagnosis

• DNA test must be ordered by the patient’s own physician.

• The medical records must document the justification for the testing

If anyone calls you offering medical services, hang up, it’s a scam. Don’t talk to these callers, don’t tell them anything about your medical history, and for sure don’t reveal your Medicare number. If you get calls from someone claiming to work for or with Medicare, hang up right away. Medicare will not call you. 

If you get such calls, you can report them to the Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol at 800-351-4664. That number also works to report fraud or suspicious charges you detect on your Medicare Summary Notice. Calling Senior Medicare Patrol to report fraud will much more quickly than calling Medicare directly.

No such thing as mystery shopping employment

When I came to work today, I found another FedEx parcel on my desk, turned in by a Clinton woman. Inside the parcel I found a counterfeit check paying the woman $4,600. Also inside I found a letter with instructions on acting as a mystery shopper. The instructions directed the “shopper” to cash the check, and use the proceeds to buy four $1,000 Wal-Mart money orders, call the “supervisor,” and send the blank money orders to an address provided by the supervisor, along with a report grading Wal-Mart on how they handled the transaction. The leftover $600 belonged to the shopper.

First thing to realize – the check is counterfeit. It will bounce. If anyone cashes such a check and sends away the money, they will find themselves owing the bank or wherever they cashed the check. Count on it. 

Second thing – no legitimate company is offering mystery shopper employment to applicants over the internet. It doesn’t exist. Any such job offer advertised on the internet is a scam. Mystery shopping, to the extent it does exist, is conducted by specialized units of certain security firms, using their own trained staff. They don’t recruit on random websites. 

Many of these “work at home” or “part-time employment” job websites only act as collection points for personal information. The websites sell the information to other crooked outfits that use the information to target victims. Avoid this.

Contact Seniors V. Crime

Let me know about scams, fraud, or other crookedness you run across. Most of what I learn, I learn from you. Contact me at Seniors vs. Crime, Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, 563-242-9211, Ext. 4433, or email me at randymeier@gapa911.us.