Posts Tagged ‘fraud’

RRB releases final rule doubling fraud penalties

RRB_seal_150pxThe Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) has released an interim final rule doubling penalties to health providers who submit false claims on a railroader’s behalf.

Under the rule, the minimum penalty per false claim increases from $5,500 to $10,781. The maximum penalty per false claim increases from $11,000 to $21,563.

The rule takes effect August 1, 2016. The public has until July 1, 2016, to comment on the rule.

Click here to read the rule published in the Federal Register.

Former N.J. shortline execs charged in fraud

MORRISTOWN, N.J. — The former chief operating officer of Morristown & Erie Railway – a shortline on which the UTU represents train and engine workers – has been indicted for fraud by a grand jury in New Jersey. He is alleged to have improperly converted more than $800,000 in state DOT funds intended for rail rehabilitation, according to newjerseynewsroom.com.

Former COO Gordon Fuller was charged by the state Division of Criminal Justice along with the railroad’s former project manager, William Phelps. They are charged with conspiracy, submitting false contract payment claims for grant funds and tampering with public records.

State officials allege the between January 2003 and August 2004, Fuller directed the railroad to submit invoices “to create and reinforce the false impression that certain work had been completed on four railroad improvement projects” for which the shortline received state DOT grants. “In fact,” said state officials, “very little of the work had been performed.”

Fuller’s brush with the law is not his first. He reportedly was named in a November indictment charging him with conspiracy, insurance fraud, deception and falsifying or tampering with records in connection with a railroad insurance claim for a damaged switch following an accident involving a truck.

UTU General Chairperson Dan O’Connell (GO 770) said, “The M&E has been a good employer even in difficult times. If we had more shortlines like M&E, we’d all be better off.” O’Connell also is the UTU’s New Jersey state legislative director.

In addition to carrying freight, Morristown & Erie Railway operates passenger excursion service and frequently rents its trains for use in movies, television shows and commercials. Its equipment recently was filmed in the Golden Globe and Oscar nominated film, Far from Heaven, starring Dennis Quaid and Julienne Moore; Mona Lisa Smile, starring Julia Roberts; and The Station Agent.

9 years in prison; but UTU victims left holding bag

LOS ANGELES — For 15 years, Thomas L. Mitchell worked a Ponzi scheme targeting and draining the retirement funds of retired LACMTA bus workers, many of whom were UTU members.

The con artist will now spend his next nine years in federal prison – having pleaded guilty to mail fraud, according to The Los Angeles Times. And while Mitchell has been ordered to return to his victims millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains, it is likely the scores of retirees, whose comfortable retirement was ruined by the cheat, will never recover their money.

Federal prosecutors said Mitchell promised high investment returns in exchange for access to the victims’ retirement funds. Only a small fraction of the money was placed in legitimate investments, with most of the funds financing a lavish lifestyle for Mitchell, according to prosecutors

The federal judge who imposed the nine-year prison sentence described Mitchell’s scheme as a “remarkable level of deception” driven entirely by “greed.” A federal prosecutor said Mitchell “was able to lead a luxurious lifestyle by stealing the life savings of hard-working men and women who only sought a dignified retirement. For his criminal conduct, Mitchell richly deserves his nearly decade-long prison sentence.”

As UTU General Secretary & Treasurer Kim Thompson pointed out in a leadership column in 2010, while “the vast majority of investment advisers, investment firms and financial planners are trustworthy professionals, an encounter with only one dishonest individual could devastate your retirement.”

Thompson recommended retirees heed 10 steps suggested by best-selling author Charles Murray, a resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute:

1) Every deal is a potential scam: Recognize that fraud is an act of deceit by one party intended to induce another to part with something of value.

2) Map out your goals before shopping or investing: There’s a difference between “buying” and “being sold.”

3) Avoid mixing business with pleasure: According to the National Institute of Justice, the attempt to defraud is more successful if a person knows or knows of the offender.

4) Don’t get greedy: Remain calm and dispassionate.

5) Be suspicious of “inside information,” “hot tips” and “one-time offers”: Why you instead of Tom-Dick-and-Harry?

6) Educate yourself: Beware of getting all your information from the seller.

7) Double check all facts: A cheat doesn’t want himself or his deal scrutinized.

8) Don’t wilt when the heat is turned up: It takes a secure person to say “no” to pressure and manipulation.

9) A promise is only as good as the person behind it.

10) Scams copy the same methods used in legitimate business dealings: Spotting the difference can be difficult. Five tell-tale signs:

* Something is promised that borders between reasonable and too good to be true.

* Victims typically know or know of the swindler.

* A sense of urgency exists.

* A cheat doesn’t want himself or the deal scrutinized;

* High-pressure sales tactics are used.

Says GS&T Thompson: “There are many investment instruments including your own UTUIA annuities that are available in which to place retirement funds that can provide the necessary security and still provide a cash stream in retirement years.

“In speaking with a financial adviser, find out what their experience has been. Check their credentials and demand other client references. And never write a check directly to an individual. Your payment should be to the investment firm or to the investment fund itself. A request for direct payment to an individual is a big red flag!

“Remember, your retirement funds represent a lifetime of savings, and there is no ‘do-over,’” Thompson warned.

Preserving Medicare: We have a role to play

Would you accept a job paying $1 million to count out $2 billion in $1 bills?

Think again, because working a 40-hour week and counting out $1 per second, you would require 266 years to count out the $2 billion total.

Now that you have an idea how much $2 billion is, consider that in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2010, the federal government, through the Department of Justice, recovered $2.6 billion in Medicare health care fraud judgments and settlements from 726 separate defendants.

This $2.6 billion total has exploded from $490 million in 1999, meaning that Medicare health care fraud is on the rise, according to PalmettoGBA, which administers Railroad Medicare.

As we struggle to preserve Medicare – and keep a lid on what we, as current and future retirees must pay for its coverage — it is necessary to do all we can to keep a lid on Medicare inflation.

We can help keep those costs down and help preserve Medicare by recognizing, reacting to and reporting Medicare health care fraud.

Here is what you can do:

  • Examine carefully your Medicare Summary Notices (MSNs).
  • Be alert for charges for services you didn’t receive, double billings for the same service, and procedures or services not ordered by your physician.
  • Keep your Medicare card in a safe place. If it becomes lost or stolen, notify your Medicare provider immediately.

If you see a charge or a date of service that is incorrect, first call your provider and ask about it. If the billing is not corrected, or if you suspect a pattern of improper billing, call the Department of Health and Human Services Medicare fraud hotline at (800) 447-8477, which will initiate an investigation and keep your identity confidential.

For more information on Medicare fraud, visit www.PalmettoGBA.com/rr/me

If we don’t take the initiative to help keep Medicare costs down, we place the future of Medicare – and our own health care futures – in jeopardy.

Do not become a victim of fraud

Financial fraud can empty your life savings. Here are 10 steps suggested by best-selling author Charles Murray.

  1. Every deal is a potential scam: Recognize that fraud is an act of deceit by one party intended to induce another to part with something of value.
  2. Map out your goals before shopping or investing: There’s a difference between “buying” and “being sold.”
  3. Avoid mixing business with pleasure: According to the National Institute of Justice, the attempt to defraud is more successful if a person knows or knows of the offender.
  4. Don’t get greedy: Remain calm and dispassionate.
  5. Be suspicious of “inside information,” “hot tips” and “one-time offers”: Why you instead of Tom-Dick-and-Harry?
  6. Educate yourself: Beware of getting all your information from the seller.
  7. Double check all facts: A cheat doesn’t want himself or his deal scrutinized.
  8. Don’t wilt when the heat is turned up: It takes a secure person to say “no” to pressure and manipulation.
  9. A promise is only as good as the person behind it.
  10. Scams copy the same methods used in legitimate business dealings: Spotting the difference can be difficult.

Five tell-tale signs:

  • Something is promised that borders between reasonable and “too good to be true”;
  • Victims typically know or know of the swindler;
  • A sense of urgency exists;
  • A cheat doesn’t want himself or the deal scrutinized;
  • High-pressure sales tactics are used.

There are many investment instruments including your own UTUIA annuities that are available in which to place retirement funds that can provide the necessary security and still provide a cash stream in retirement years.

In speaking with a financial adviser, find out what their experience has been. Check their credentials and demand other client references. And never write a check directly to an individual. Your payment should be to the investment firm or to the investment fund itself. A request for direct payment to an individual is a big red flag!

Remember, your retirement funds represent a lifetime of savings, and there is no “do-over.”