Monday, July 22, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7
RICHMOND COUNTY, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – Officials say a Medicare and Medicaid scam is now spanning two counties and could be affecting people across the state.
News 12 is told investigators met on Monday in Richmond County and and finalized the charges for four more men involved in this case. Now, a total of eight people are charged in Richmond and Burke Counties.
The CAVE Task Force, a part of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, and the Richmond County Marshall’s Office staked out a hotel in Augusta on Saturday night to arrest the four scammers.
Thomas Eubanks, 19, is charged with felony unlawful acts involving public medical assistance. Joseph Garcia, 31, of Houston, TX, and Dylan Logsdon, 21, of Illinois are booked on the same charges.
Timothy Smith, 38, of Ohio is also behind bars on the same charge.
Investigators executed search warrants on the hotel rooms and found evidence that will be used for additional charges, according to the Burke County Sheriff's Office.
They are accused of going door to door pretending to be with a medical testing company trying to get your personal information.
“I might’ve given them my Social Security number. I might’ve gave them everything,” said Norris Washington, a Waynesboro resident. “Because it did look legit to me. God knows it did.”
Washington is on disability and says two men were walking around his apartment complex the other day.
He says the men looked legit, and they were going door to door, so he just let them in.
“They said they was running some tests, checking people out for cancer. It's free,” Washington said.
When Washington heard that, he jumped at the opportunity.
"He got me in here and sat down with me. Tilt my head back and swiped my mouth with a swab. He put it in a plastic bag,” Washington said.
Melissa Clark, another Waynesboro resident, says they asked her too, but she said no.
“They go to the door and ask elderly people,” Clark said. “Elderly people [are] so sweet and nice, you know they’re going to go ahead and give them their information.”
Investigators say this is a widespread scam with national implications. Now there's a U.S. Inspector General alert warning of the scheme.
“They can say it on TV. There's credit card scams, Medicare scams, all kinds of scams going on. But you never thought it'd happen in your own neighborhood,” Washington said.
Investigators are encouraging people to be cautious and report any suspicious situations. If you have additional information, they say to call local law enforcement.
As for how this may affect the Medicaid system, officials don't know right now. But in 2018, Georgia Medicaid spending totaled more than $10 billion.
The Burke County Sheriff's Office said in an email about the scam: "A medical referral by a doctor is required for anything where Medicaid is concerned or billed. Therefore, in most of these scams, the information is obtained and a “Tele-Doctor” is used to bill Medicaid. In one case we are currently dealing with from Burke County, Medicaid has already denied the payment and send the victim a bill for $3,000.00."
"The individuals here are illegally obtaining information which is then sent out of state and appears to be used for illegal billing of not only the swab test but for other services. Therefore, if they use your Medicaid number to pay for a service that you end up personally needing later, you will be denied because Medicaid will show this service has already been performed."
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