By far, the most common type of fraud to be prosecuted under the False Claims Act is healthcare fraud, the filing of false claims (or making of false records or statements) with Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and other federally-funded insurance programs. The states of California and Illinois even have a private insurance whistleblower statute.
A new twist on an old scheme, 10 former professional football players were charged with a conspiracy to defraud the NFL’s health care benefit program by submitting nearly $4 million in false claims for medical equipment, resulting in $3.4 million in reimbursements. They allegedly fabricated letters, prescriptions, and invoices to prove they purchased medical equipment that they never actually purchased. They were not subtle with their fraud either; “the players claimed to have purchased hyperbaric oxygen chambers, ultrasound machines and electromagnetic therapy devices that were designed to be used on horses.”
Those charged include fan favorite Clinton Portis (career earnings of $43.1 million). He retired in 2009, and filed for bankruptcy just a few years later. Another player likely to soon be charged was former receiver Joe Horn (career earnings of $36.7 million), who achieved notoriety by pulling out a cell phone to celebrate a touchdown.
Unfortunately for Horn and the others, healthcare fraud warrants more than a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.