Russian gangsters increasingly are teaming up with their Italian counterparts in New York City to form bogus clinics and bilk auto insurers, says a veteran FBI agent who supervises undercover operations in the Big Apple. That’s not good news for the fraud-fighting community in the state — and even worse for the policyholders who are footing the bill.
Supervisory Special Agent John Campanella briefed members of the New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud (NYAAIF) yesterday on the litany of organized mobsters working healthcare fraud in New York. They include Russians, Armenians, Georgians, Ukrainians and a couple of Eurasian groups I learned about for the first time.
Agent Campanella walked through the organized structure of Russian and Italian syndicates, how they differ, how they are alike and how the FBI penetrates them during undercover operations. With the growing heat on no-fault auto fault, many gangs are now turning to Medicare and Medicaid to ply their trade, Campanella said.
His was one of two insightful presentations during the NYAAIF annual meeting held in downtown New York City. The chief of the state’s DMV investigations unit discussed how new facial recognition technology is catching thousands of people with duplicate licenses. Fraudsters range from ordinary people whose driving privileges were revoked to suspected international terrorists. In one case, Russian mobsters transported vans full of people from New York to DC to get fake licenses by bribing a DC licensing official. With the new DC licenses, they obtained new licenses in New York and used them to bill insurers for bogus treatment from staged crashes and Medicaid schemes.
New York continues to be a hotbed for all kinds of fraud schemes, whether initiated by organized gangs or everyday people. The NYAAIF has helped to keep the focus on fraud for more than 10 years with an aggressive TV, radio and billboard advertising program. Members who attended yesterday’s event got a preview of next year’s campaign and heard about many successes so far in 2012. That included a record year for media outreach and social media penetration, with which the Coalition assists NYAAIF.
Every state should have an organization like NYAAIF.
About the author: Dennis Jay is executive director for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.