Monday, October 23, 2023

A COVID Test Medicare Scam May Be a Trial Run for Further Fraud; FBI Report: Violent Crime Decreases to Pre-Pandemic Levels, but Property Crime is on the Rise, and other C-Virus related stories
A COVID test Medicare scam may be a trial run for further fraud:
Medicare coverage for at-home COVID-19 tests ended in May, but the scams spawned by the temporary pandemic benefit could have lingering consequences for seniors.
Medicare advocates around the country who track fraud noticed an eleventh-hour rise in complaints from beneficiaries who received tests — sometimes by the dozen — that they never requested. It’s a signal that someone may have been using, and could continue to use, seniors’ Medicare information to improperly bill the federal government.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General has received complaints from around the country about unsolicited tests being billed to Medicare, said a top investigator. Earlier this year, the office posted a fraud warning on its website, urging consumers to report this and other COVID-related scams.
“Unfortunately, most of these schemes are the result of bad actors receiving stolen Medicare beneficiary information,” Scott Lampert, assistant inspector general for investigations, told KFF Health News.
Stolen Medicare numbers
Being targeted once can mean a person is vulnerable to future scams. A stolen Medicare number can be used repeatedly to get payment for all kinds of things or sold to other fraudsters, said María Alvarez, who oversees New York state’s Senior Medicare Patrol. The organization helps identify and educate beneficiaries about Medicare fraud throughout the country.
“If you have someone’s Medicare number, you can bill Medicare for procedures, tests, drugs, services, and durable medical equipment,” Alvarez said. “On the dark web, Medicare numbers are more valuable than credit card or Social Security numbers.” --->READ MORE HERE
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File
FBI report: Violent crime decreases to pre-pandemic levels, but property crime is on the rise:
Violent crime across the U.S. decreased last year — dropping to about the same level as before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic — but property crimes rose substantially, according to data in the FBI’s annual crime report released Monday.
The report comes with an asterisk: Some law enforcement agencies failed to provide data. But a change in collection methods in compiling 2022 numbers helped, and the FBI said the new data represents 83.3% of all agencies covering 93.5% of the population. By contrast, last year’s numbers were from only 62.7% of agencies, representing 64.8% of Americans.
Violent crime dropped 1.7%, and that included a 6.1% decrease in murder and non-negligent manslaughter. Rape decreased 5.4% and aggravated assault dropped 1.1%, but robbery increased 1.3%. Violent crime had also decreased slightly in 2021, a big turnaround from 2020, when the murder rate in the U.S. jumped 29% during the pandemic that created huge social disruption and upended support systems.
The violent crime rate of 380.7 per 100,000 people was a tick better than 2019 — the year before the pandemic hit the U.S., when the rate was 380.8 per 100,000 people.
Richard Rosenfeld, criminal justice professor emeritus at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said the drop in violence can be attributed largely to the fact that the “stresses and strains” associated with the pandemic have abated.
“By and large what we’re seeing is simply a return to something approaching normal after the big changes associated with the pandemic,” Rosenfeld said.
Despite the waning violence, property crimes jumped 7.1%, with motor vehicle thefts showing the biggest increase at 10.9%. The FBI said carjackings increased 8.1% from 2021, and the vast majority of carjackings involving an assailant with a weapon. Someone was injured in more than a quarter of all carjackings. --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

Hyatt Regency Long Beach fined $4.7M for violating COVID-19 law

Many Americans padded their savings amid COVID. How are they surviving as money dries up?

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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