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Miami Tax Law Blog

Settlement reached in health care fraud accusation

Two doctors and a home health care company in Florida are at the center of a complaint filed in 2012. The complaint asserts the doctor's wives were paid a salary linked to the Medicare referrals the doctors provided the company. On Feb. 23, it was announced that a monetary settlement was reached in the case against the two doctors and their spouses.

The situation dates back to 2012 when the health care company's director filed a complaint saying that the company paid seven doctors in the area and their wives for referrals. The director alleged that he reviewed the company's payroll records and found the salaries correlated with the Medicare referrals their husbands made to the company. According to the complaint, the funds were an illegal kickback and were part of a fraudulent scheme to acquire patients and revenue.

Psychiatrist convicted by jury for lying about care

According to court records, a South Florida psychiatrist was convicted following a federal jury trial for allegedly lying about providing care to mental health patients at a Broward County psychiatric facility. The conviction came on Feb. 13 following one week of deliberations.

The psychiatrist was acquitted on the main charge of conspiracy to defraud Medicare and of committing wire fraud. Upon his conviction on his remaining charge, the judge ordered him to report to prison officials immediately. He will face up to five years in prison upon his sentencing.

Florida man admits to faking prescriptions and pocketing money

On Feb. 18, a 35-year-old Naples man admitted that he stole money by defrauding Medicaid and Medicare. He was reportedly part of a scheme that involved stealing thousands of dollars from federally funded healthcare programs. The defendant, his mother and his brother would submit false prescriptions that were not filled. They would then pocket the payments for the prescriptions.The pharmacy where the fraud allegedly occurred was raided by federal agents in 2014.

The owner of the pharmacy is serving time in a prison in Miami and is expected to be released in 2016. The defendant pleaded guilty to seven charges, including identity theft and using a DEA number that did not belong to him to fill prescriptions. The defendant faces up to 34 years in prison for seven charges. The prosecution and the defense have agreed to a six-year prison sentence as part of a plea agreement.

Several men charged with running Florida gambling ring

Authorities detained and charged a group of eight men with running a multi-million dollar illegal gambling operation in South Florida after a police raid on Feb. 5. The arrests were the culmination of a lengthy investigation that began in 2013 and involved a total of 10 law enforcement agencies from across the country, which included the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Broward County Sheriff's Office.

According to information released by the Broward County Sheriff's Office, the group conducted illegal gambling activities via the Internet and in person at locations throughout Broward and Palm Beach counties. Some of the men in the group allegedly also have close connections with the Genovese crime family based in New York and contributed upwards of $1.2 million to what investigators claim was a much larger criminal organization active in at least three states. The men are accused of using offshore websites to facilitate illicit gambling and bookmaking on such things as horse races and sporting events.

Identity thefts target income taxes

Income tax returns have become the latest way that identity thefts have started to use people's personal information for their own personal gain. This type of identity theft often occurs with electronically filed tax returns, through which social security numbers are intercepted. The identity thefts file false income tax returns before people can file them and have the money wired to a fraudulent account or pre-paid debit card.

According to data from the Internal Revenue Service's General Accountability Office Report, the federal organization gave out $5.2 billion to identity thefts in 2014, and the number is not expected to drastically change in 2015. In 2014, the IRS sent over 700 checks for a total of $1 million to an address in Florida and over 2,000 checks for a total of $3.3 million to another address in Michigan.

How tax schemes may impact Florida residents

Individual taxpayers and corporate taxpayers alike do not like paying taxes. Some go so far as to create tax shelters in an effort to circumvent tax law. One such scheme involves putting assets into a trust to make it look like the business doesn't have control of its assets. The assets are then leased back to the company with some or all profits shipped overseas. This is done to avoid paying taxes and having to file a return for the income with the IRS.

Another scheme involves setting up an International Business Corporation (IBC) and opening a bank account in another country. When the taxpayer receives money from a customer, that money is sent to the overseas bank account, and a corresponding action is taken with the domestic bank where the company may already have a bank account. This makes it look to the customer like the money never left the country.

Tax evasion charge could lead to 3 years in jail for Florida man

A gastroenterologist from Palm Beach County awaits sentencing in March after appearing in Miami federal court on Jan. 7 because of a tax evasion charge. As part of a plea agreement, the 56-year-old man pleaded guilty for falsifying an income-tax return in 2006 and could spend three years in prison.

The physician allegedly did not report $18 million in income, and the authorities say some of the money went to a $12 million mansion in Manalapan and tuition for his children. The man has paid around $10.2 million to the Internal Revenue Service in an attempt to remedy unpaid taxes for 2004-2008, but the physician still owes more than $1.6 million, which includes penalties and interest.

Bail request denied for music promoter

According to court documents, a request for bail by a former music promoter accused of defrauding investors out of $300 million was denied by a Miami federal court magistrate judge on Jan. 28. The man formerly produced big-name acts such as Aerosmith, Elton John and the Rolling Stones.

Reportedly, the man used his music promotions business to secure investments from nearly 3,000 investors, operating the business as a Ponzi scheme. Prosecutors allege total losses involved around $300 million.

The rise of medical identity theft

Most Americans are aware of identity theft when it comes to one's financial information, but Florida residents might be unaware of another type of fraud called medical identity theft. According to a survey conducted by the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, reports of this type of theft rose 19 percent in 2013 as 1.84 million individuals were allegedly victims of medical identity theft.

Medical identity theft occurs when someone uses the personal information of another to get medical care, prescriptions or equipment. One can use the name, health insurance ID or Social Security number of another to buy drugs or expensive equipment that can be sold for profit on the black market. Unlike financial identity theft, there are few systems in place that deal with medical identity theft; insurance companies and medical facilities do not have the ability to alert clients to suspicious activity like banks and credit companies can.

How people respond to signs of identity theft

A person in Florida might be accused of identity theft after an alleged victim notices odd charges on their credit card or inaccurate information on their credit report. After spotting the perceived fraud, a person might take certain steps to prevent further acts of fraud. The first thing someone may do is to contact one of the credit bureaus so that a fraud alert can be issued. This will prevent any new cards from being issued, block credit card applications and stop any credit increases.

Someone who believes they have had their identity stolen may also decide to close a number of their financial accounts. Any transactions that the account holder believes were fraudulent may be disputed. A person might also file an identity theft complaint with the Federal Trade Commission so that fraudulent debts can be cleared off their credit report.

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