Stamford Woman Charged with Operating Health Care Fraud Scheme
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that ELENA ILIZAROV, 43, of Stamford, was arrested yesterday on a federal criminal complaint alleging that she used stolen identity information to operate a health care fraud scheme. ILIZAROV owned and operated Advanced Dentistry, a dental practice located in Stamford.
ILIZAROV appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah A.L. Merriam in New Haven and was released on a $500,000 bond, with the requirement that ILIZAROV wear a GPS monitoring device.
The complaint alleges that, beginning in approximately 2005, ILIZAROV fraudulently obtained the personal identifying information of a retired dentist and used that information to bill insurance companies through Advanced Dentistry for dental care allegedly performed by the retired dentist.
The alleged scheme resulted in losses of more than $1.1 million to the various health insurance companies.
The charge of wire fraud carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
U.S. Attorney Daly stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarala V. Nagala and David J. Sheldon.
“This alleged scheme victimized a retired dentist who had his identity stolen, as well as multiple insurance companies that paid more than a million dollars in fraudulent claims,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “Health care insurance fraud schemes ultimately increase health care costs for all of us, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal and state investigative partners are committed to uncovering all of them to ensure that justice is done.”
U.S. Attorney Daly noted that this announcement is made as part of a national health care fraud takedown.
Earlier today, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced an unprecedented nationwide sweep led by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force in 36 federal districts, resulting in criminal and civil charges against 300 individuals, including 61 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving approximately $900 million in false billings. Twenty-two state Medicaid Fraud Control Units also participated in today’s arrests. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is suspending payment to a number of providers using its suspension authority provided in the Affordable Care Act. This coordinated takedown is the largest in history, both in terms of the number of defendants charged and loss amount.
“As this takedown should make clear, health care fraud is not an abstract violation or benign offense – It is a serious crime,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “The wrongdoers that we pursue in these operations seek to use public funds for private enrichment. They target real people – many of them in need of significant medical care. They promise effective cures and therapies, but they provide none. Above all, they abuse basic bonds of trust – between doctor and patient; between pharmacist and doctor; between taxpayer and government – and pervert them to their own ends. The Department of Justice is determined to continue working to ensure that the American people know that their health care system works for them – and them alone.”
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations and since its inception in March 2007 has charged over 2,900 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $8.9 billion.
Including today’s enforcement actions, nearly 1,200 individuals have been charged in national takedown operations, which have involved more than $3.4 billion in fraudulent billings. Today’s announcement marks the second time that districts outside of Strike Force locations – including the District of Connecticut – participated in a national takedown, and they accounted for 82 defendants charged in this takedown.
U.S. Attorney Daly encourages individuals who suspect health care fraud to report it by calling the Health Care Fraud Task Force at (203) 777-6311 or 1-800-HHS-TIPS.