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Power wheelchair scheme results in thousands of identities stolen

Dec 10, 2011 Karen Umpierre

Two siblings who worked at a Palmview, Texas, medical equipment company are facing healthcare fraud and identity theft charges after submitting thousands of dollars worth of fake power wheelchair claims to Medicare and Medicaid, the Monitor reports. Ace Medical Equipment owner Velma Alaniz and her manager sister, Valente, sold wheelchairs from their store to the healthcare programs' beneficiaries. However, the pair sold less expensive models to each patient's' physician, even when many times the chairs weren't medically necessary. They would still bill the government for the pricier models, reaping the benefits of the difference. KRGV-TV reports that the two engaged in this practice from July 2008 through June 2010. According to the indictment, the Alanizes also "falsified and forged physicians' reports and other Medicare and Medicaid-related documents" to ensure that patients qualified for a chair. The Monitor points out that healthcare fraud carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine. The pair have made their initial appearance before a magistrate judge and a detention hearing is planned.