7 companies, 4 men charged in $1B telemedicine fraud scheme

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<pSeven companies and four men are facing charges, accused of roles in a $1 billion telemedicine fraud scheme that deceived tens of thousands of patients and more than 100 doctors, federal prosecutors announced Monday.

<pThe eastern Tennessee U.S. attorney's office said six Florida companies, a Houston firm and four Florida men are named in a 32-count indictment charging them with conspiracy to commit health care<pProsecutors added that doctors approved prescriptions without knowing that the companies and their officials massively marked up prices of the wrongly prescribed drugs. The defendants then billed private insurance, prosecutors say.

<pUnder the scheme, prosecutors say, private insurers were defrauded out of about $174 million from June 2015 to April 2018, and at least $931 million in fraudulent claims for payment were submitted by the parties charged in the scheme. The indictment seeks the forfeiture of about $154 million.

<pIn September, telemedicine company HealthRight LLC and its CEO, Scott Roix of Florida, pleaded guilty to charges in that scheme and another regarding fraudulent telemarketing of dietary supplements, skin creams and testosterone.

<pThe Florida companies charged in the indictment are Synergy Pharmacy Services in Palm Harbor; Precision Pharmacy Management, Tanith Enterprises, ULD Wholesale Group, Alpha-Omega Pharmacy, each in Clearwater; and Germaine Pharmacy in Tampa. Zoetic Pharmacy in Houston also was charged.

<pIt was not immediately clear from court documents whether the defendants have hired lawyers.