STAMFORD, Conn. -- A Stamford woman has been caught up in a massive nationwide health care fraud takedown, according to Deirdre M. Daly, U.S. attorney for Connecticut.
The nationwide bust is the largest in history, both in terms of the number of defendants charged and amount of money stolen, Daly said Wednesday.
Elena Ilizarov, 43, owner and operator of Advanced Dentistry at 999 Summer St. in Stamford, was arrested Tuesday and charged with wire fraud, Daly said.
According to Daly, Ilizarov bilked insurance companies of more than $1.1 million by using the stolen identity of an unnamed, retired dentist to bill them for procedures that were never performed.
The alleged scheme began in 2005, Daly said.
If found guilty, Ilizarov could face up to 20 years in prison.
Just prior to Daly’s announcement, U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell broke the news that an unprecedented nationwide sweep -- led by the Medicare Fraud Strike Force in 36 federal districts – had resulted in criminal and civil charges against 300 individuals, including 61 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals.
The alleged false billings amounted to about $900 million, Lynch and Burwell said.
Dozens of state Medicaid Fraud Control Units, including Connecticut’s, participated in the takedown, the government officials said.
As part of the bust, the Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is suspending payments to a number of providers using its powers under the federal Affordable Care Act.
“As this takedown should make clear, health care fraud is not an abstract violation or benign offense – It is a serious crime,” Lynch said.
Those accused of such fraud are not only using public funds for private enrichment, she said, they are also victimizing “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 attorney general said.
Daly encouraged anyone who suspects fraud to report it to the Health Care Fraud Task Force by calling 203-777-6311, or 1-800-HHS-TIPS.