3 charged in $46M scheme to bribe telehealth providers for kickbacks

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Three telemarketing company owners have been charged for their alleged participation in a $46 million healthcare fraud, money laundering and kickback scheme for referring medically unnecessary cancer genetic tests to labs for kickbacks, the Justice Department said May 3.

Christian McKeon, 35, and Athanasios Ziros, 42, have been charged with conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Gregory Orr, 64, has been charged with conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks for his alleged role in the scheme.

Prosecutors say Mr. McKeon and Mr. Ziros allegedly participated in a scheme to operate a telemarketing campaign targeting Medicare beneficiaries to encourage them to accept unnecessary cancer genetic tests. Mr. McKeon and Mr. Ziros allegedly offered and paid illegal kickbacks and bribes to telemedicine companies in exchange for physician orders for expensive cancer genetic tests.

The physician orders were written by contracted physicians even though they had no prior relationship with the beneficiaries, were not treating the beneficiaries for cancer or symptoms of cancer, did not conduct a proper telemedicine visit, and did not use the test results in the treatment of beneficiaries.

According to the indictment, all three men sold these signed physician orders for cancer genetic tests to labs in exchange for illegal kickbacks. One of the labs allegedly submitted approximately $46 million in claims to Medicare, of which $27 million was paid to the lab. The indictment also alleges the lab paid the defendants $14 million in kickbacks.

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