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Even after 24 fraud arrests those medical brace calls keep coming

April 10, 2019 07:01 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- More and more people are getting unwanted medical braces delivered to their home and you're paying for it. 

The feds say this is one of the biggest Medicare frauds the FBI has ever investigated and they point to News10NBC investigations as some of the first in-depth reporting on it. 

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The FBI and investigators from the Department of Health and Human Services arrested 24 people across the country in this fraud Tuesday. They say it's a network of call centers, doctors and medical equipment companies sending back braces to people who don't need them. The companies bill Medicare and that's why you're paying for it. 

"This box is like knee braces and ankle braces," Linda Little said inside her home on Driving Park Avenue. 

She's had three boxes of medical braces delivered to her home in a week and a half. Little says her doctor never prescribed this. 

"I don't even know how to use this stuff," she said holding on a heavy plastic brace still in the plastic bag.

Tuesday, after federal investigators arrested two dozen people doing this kind of work, they pointed to our story in February about a Chili man who had close to $3,000 worth of braces mailed to his home. 

"When I saw your story I said, 'I'm going to call him and see what he has to tell me,'" Little said. 

News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "Has your doctor every prescribed any of this equipment for you?"

Linda Little: "No."

Brean: "Do you every recall getting phone calls from people saying you can get this equipment for free?"

Little: "They call every day actually."

And when News10NBC was at Little's home, a high pressure call came again. The caller never said his name or who he worked for but he asked Little to describe her pain on a scale of one to 10. He asked her to pinpoint where it hurts and said she could get braces for any part of her body for free because Medicare was going to pay. 

That's when News10NBC stepped in. 

Brean: "I guess the question is, Linda's doctor has never prescribed her any of this equipment so why would she need the equipment from you guys?"

We're not using the recording of the caller yet but he told News10NBC he was only confirming Little's eligibility, that she must have signed a form online. Then, he said Little is the one committing fraud since she had three boxes delivered to her home. 

Brean: "Where are you calling from?"

That's when he hung up. It was the third call like that Little got Wednesday. 

"I'm glad you were here so you could hear it for yourself," she said. "I don't know what to do."

News10NBC copied the names of the company that sent Little the medical braces. We are going to see if they're linked with any of the arrests this week. 

If you, your parents, or your grandparents feel they've been defrauded, you should file a complaint.

Click here to find the complaint form. 

Credits

Berkeley Brean

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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