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34 L.A.-area residents held in Medicare fraud scheme

Federal agents arrested 34 Los Angeles-area residents Wednesday in a nationwide crackdown on one of the largest Medicare fraud schemes ever uncovered, authorities said.

A total of 73 people in five states -- California, Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York and Ohio -- were charged with engaging in numerous criminal activities involving $163 million in fraudulent billings, authorities said.

The suspects allegedly stole the identities of doctors and thousands of Medicare beneficiaries and operated at least 118 phantom clinics -- or clinics that existed in name only -- in 25 states with the intent to submit phony claims, prosecutors said.

Ten people in the Los Angeles area were indicted on charges of submitting more than $17 million in fake claims to Medicare. Also arrested were 24 others who live in Los Angeles but were indicted elsewhere.

The suspects also are accused of running at least eight fraudulent medical clinics and seeking reimbursements for services never delivered and laundering the ill-gotten money.

The charges were filed in federal court in New York. According to court documents, the Mirzoyan-Terdjanian international organized crime ring, which has members and associates in the United States and Armenia, is behind the alleged scheme.

The group is named for its principal leaders, Davit Mirzoyan and Robert Terdjanian, who are based in Los Angeles and New York.

-- Ching-Ching Ni

Photo: Dozens were arrested Wednesday in a Medicare fraud scheme. Credit: KTLA-TV Channel 5


Comments () | Archives (19)

These are the ones who give those of us honest and long suffering, the bad name.

I'm thrilled this happened!!! I'm a claims biller, and we've had several Spanish-speaking only patients over the last couple of years state they were approached at home, told they "were entitled to Medicare services", were driven to Los Angeles, a 55m ride one way from their homes, had their billing info copied, were told "sign here, and here" on English-only papers, taken to McDonalds for a free lunch, driven back home and within a few days had "visiting nurse" come out with "Dr's orders", and soon after the nurse visit, they started to receive orthopedic shoes, crutches, and hospital beds. Our nurse called "The Dr" and he got all flustered and stated "the nursing services company told me there'd be no problems with this! All I had to do was sign orders and get $45 a piece for them... " Well, I hope he's one of the ones arrested in Los Angeles today... serves them all right. I get my legit claims rejected for incomplete diagnoses codes (the 5th digit was left off inadvertantly) and these guys are making millions on phoney claims! I'm glad they got caught....

When is the L.A. DA going to wake-up to the organized Armenian criminal gangs? For 15 years they have been getting away with huge amounts of $$, planting their Armenians in banks, gas stations, hospitals, etc, getting people's personal information, and then conducting their crime, successfully. They wire the stolen money overseas, simple as that, and nearly always never get caught.

Good work on behalf of the FBI. I hope those funds are recouped and returned to medicare.

It is very sad that those people who are suppose to monitor these clinics to make sure those claims are from a legitimate clinic are not arrested!!!! Because if they were doing thier job of checking those clinic, the whole mess of $168millon would be claimed by the people who need it. So arrest those workers who work for medical and make them accountable for not doing thier job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Based on what I've witnessed over the last five or so years, I've concluded that fraud and corruption is the U.S. economy.

Thank you and good work FBI!
Also, how were these criminals permitted into the country? More fraud on their part or the government's? Might not be a bad follow up. Would be interesting to know.

Whatever their sentence, we want the money back...with interest!

Remember when the Republicans said that providing money for the Feds to crack down on Medicare fraud was a "power grab?" Thank God President Obama got the health care reform bill through, which included a dramatic increase in funding for fraud enforcement.


good work
im sre that there alot op people how feel beter now that tahy know thay will be behind bares

Are these people foreign born? Are they citizens? Why do we let them in?

As an Armenian American - I am ashamed of this news - what a shame they brought to most hard working community in America.
I am glad they busted them - I hope they will clean all the medicare frauds once and for all!

that would be the best heathcare overhaul

Hey folks -- let's not be so quick to malign an entire ethnic group for the actions of a few. I'm sure all you have a friend from another ethnic group; if someone from the same (ethnic) group committed a crime would you feel your friend is responsible? OF course not.

Are all persons of Italian descent in the mafia? Is every Catholic priest a pedophile?

There are many, many hard working and honest Americans of Armenian descent. Each racial/ethnic group has its bad apples, that's just part of human nature.

I'm sure glad the gov't finally cracked down on these fraudsters, again. I live in the foothills outside of Burbank and you can't swing a stick without hitting one of their Medical Supply / Adult Day Health Care Center / Home Hospice Care false fronts. In some cases you'll see 2-3 right next door to each other and it's painfully obvious to a pre-schooler what's going on.

Now there are about three-dozen less speeding German luxury cars I won't have to worry about when crossing the street.

Good say TT Man.

Why did it take the Feds this long to catch these thugs? Somebody was sleeping at the wheel.

This was going on for too long and we have lost the sense of real health care coast. Faulty health care has driven the cost way up by 200% to 300%. One way it benefited the insurance companies, because now they can approach the government and offer health care solution for less but still make huge profits, because the governments resources will be deployed and the fraud reduced in huge numbers. The millions these low life's have stolen may look huge, but the real thieves are setting us up for bigger hist of the century. People will never suspect or miss the money being stolen. This will go on for a long time until someone will expose it.

Go to basics, health care should be a humanitarian act of love performed with volunteers within the community. To many boys and girls are wasting their life's doing nothing constructive. If we use this huge resource without turning it into new industry or expensive program it will be great example.

If government officials are stealling taxpayers money, what do you expect from criminals. At least for criminals it's their job, but for government officials it is corrupt system and bunch of money hungry wolves. Just two years ago chief of police got busted for rewarding himself with taxpayers money over who knows how many years and stealing drugs for sale. So, why is this such a huge news? They learn from their leaders (government).


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