South Florida Marketer Pleads Guilty to Role in Scheme Involving Purchase and Sale of Millions of Medicare Beneficiary Identification Numbers
MIAMI – A South Florida man pled guilty in federal court today to conspiring to buy and sell more than 2.6 million Medicare beneficiary identification numbers, along with other personal identifiers.
Charles William McElwee, 36, pled guilty to one count of conspiring to violate the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), Title 42, United States Code, Section 1320a-7b(b)(4). MACRA is a law that makes it illegal to buy, sell, or distribute Medicare beneficiary identification numbers without proper authority. This is one of the first prosecutions brought under MACRA.
As part of his plea, McElwee admitted that he and his co-conspirators used “data mining” and “social engineering techniques” to collect Medicare beneficiary information, which McElwee then advertised and sold online. The trafficked information included beneficiary names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, and Medicare beneficiary identification numbers. According to the charges, some of the illicit transactions involved foreign actors, including sellers in the Philippines.
McElwee’s sentencing hearing is set for April 7, at 1:15 p.m., before U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas. McElwee faces up to five years in federal prison.
Markenzy Lapointe, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Omar Pérez Aybar, Special Agent in Charge, Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Miami Region; and Chad Yarbrough, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami announced the guilty plea.
HHS-OIG Miami and FBI Miami are investigating this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon Juenger is prosecuting it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daren Grove is handling asset forfeiture.
Medicare beneficiaries who believe they have been a victim of medical identity theft can file a complaint with the HHS-OIG hotline by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477) or with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 22-cr-60202.
Public Affairs Unit
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida