For Medicare to function properly, accurate accounting that details the services rendered to program recipients by health care workers is essential. When workers seek to defraud the Medicare program, it is usually done by falsifying such accounts. This type of fraudulent practice can lead to federal charges. However, it is not entirely uncommon for people to unknowingly become involved in such alleged schemes.

Five individuals from Michigan have been charged with federal crimes based on more than $24.7 million in claims filed with Medicare for services that were either not provided or were medically unnecessary.

The fraud was allegedly conducted using home health and psychotherapy clinics. Because Medicare is a federal program, the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services both have a part to play in investigating this type of fraud. The combined actions of the separate agencies have been placed in the charge of a single Medicare Fraud Strike Force. This task force has charged over 1,330 defendants for Medicare fraud since it was established in 2007, accusing defendants of over $4 billion in fraud.

The fact that there is a task force devoted solely to catching those who attempt to defraud Medicare shows just how seriously federal authorities take this type of crime. The defendants are presently awaiting trial on the Medicare fraud charges, but, as always, should be considered innocent until and unless they are proven guilty. Cases like this are not always cut and dry. Sometimes people who are charged in these cases became involved unknowingly, thinking they were doing nothing wrong. It's important that defendants know their rights and options so they can defend their freedom. Charges related to Medicare fraud can result in a lengthy jail sentence that can forever alter a person's life.

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Five Individuals Charged in Detroit for Alleged Roles in $24.7 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme," U.S. Department of Justice, Sept. 20, 2012