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Federal Medicare fraud task force expands into Tampa

TAMPA — A federal task force aimed at stopping Medicare fraud has expanded its operations into Tampa.

The Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services announced the expansion Tuesday, along with new offices in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Baton Rouge, La.

The strike force works with the local U.S. Attorneys Office and FBI to fight fraud through the use of data analysis techniques and increased community policing, a Justice Department of Justice release said.

"Medicare fraud, especially in Florida, has been a growing issue and concern and this is definitely one initiative we estimate to be very effective," said Dave Couvertier, a spokesman for the FBI Tampa office.

Tampa was selected for expansion after extensive research was done in the area, said Steve Cole, a spokesperson for the Middle District of Florida's U.S. Attorney's Office.

"There is some statistical data that shows there is some abnormal numbers (in Tampa) and we are going to look into that," Cole said.

The Florida Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has also joined the Strike Force.

Other Strike Force offices are located in Miami, Los Angeles, Detroit and Houston.

The Department of Justice also announced Tuesday it has charged 30 people in Miami, Detroit and Brooklyn for their parts in a scheme to submit more than $61 million in false Medicare claims.

Since its inception in March 2007, more than 460 people and organizations that falsely billed more than a billion dollars to the Medicare program have been charged.

To learn more about Medicare fraud or report it, go to stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at (813) 226-3374 or srossetter@sptimes.com.

Federal Medicare fraud task force expands into Tampa 12/15/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 11:47pm]

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