Owner of fraudulent telemarketing company sentenced to four years in federal prison

 

Date: September 4, 2020

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Tampa, Florida – Chief U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday today sentenced Samuel Friedman (Land O' Lakes) to four years in federal prison for health care fraud. The court also ordered Friedman to forfeit his interests in real property as well as a bank account containing nearly $475,000, which were traceable to proceeds of the offense. Restitution was ordered in the amount of $3.42 million.

Friedman had pleaded guilty on June 16, 2020.

According to court documents, Friedman owned and operated a telemarketing operation known as SKF Enterprises, LLC (SKF). SKF targeted the Medicare-aged population to generate orders for durable medical equipment (DME) and cancer genetic (CGx) testing. SKF's call center employees were trained to follow a script of triage questions designed to upsell DME and CGx testing to Medicare beneficiaries. SKF then packaged this information into the format of a prescription for doctors' approval under the guise of "telemedicine," but no proper telemedicine occurred. Rather, doctors' signatures were secured in exchange for bribes and kickbacks.

During the scheme, Friedman bribed numerous doctors, through fraudulent "telemedicine" companies, to sign and to approve thousands of DME and CGx-testing orders, regardless of medical necessity. Once signed by doctors, Friedman sold the prescriptions to client-conspirators for submission to Medicare and the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The conspirators attempted to conceal their illegal kickback relationships using sham boilerplate marketing agreements. For these illegal sales, conspirators paid SKF more than $3.4 million.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kristen A. Fiore.