Friday, August 26, 2016
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In This Issue
Fraud in the News
The following are current news articles about health care and fraud issues.

Please share this Fraud Alert with colleagues, consumers, or other professionals in your area. If you have any questions about the Illinois SMP program, or to receive these Fraud Alerts directly, please contact Jason Echols, Healthcare Consumer Protection Coordinator at AgeOptions.
This project was supported, in part by grant number 90MP0216, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy. 

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Dear SMP Readers, 


This week, two stories ripped from the SMP hotline: a Medicare fraudster targets a woman on a bus, and a woman receives multiple imposter scam calls.


Read more in this week's Fraud Alert:

Fraudsters on the Bus

This week on the SMP hotline, we got a call from a Medicare beneficiary in Chicago who was approached by a home services representative while she waited at her bus stop. The representative got on the bus with the beneficiary and asked if she would like to receive help with light housekeeping for free. If so, all the representative needed was the woman's Medicare card. The beneficiary asked "How can you do that for free?" and the representative said that her company would bill Medicare monthly and share a portion of the Medicare payment with the beneficiary in cash. The beneficiary was suspicious so she said she would think about. When she got home, she called SMP at AgeOptions, and we confirmed that this is a scam.

Two things stand out as red flags in this story:
  • Medicare only covers medically necessary services. If you need any Medicare service, always start by talking to your doctor, not a stranger. 
  • Offering cash for the use of your Medicare number is called a kickback, and it is illegal. If you are offered money in exchange for your Medicare number, do not take it and report this to SMP.
Never share your Medicare number with someone who promises free services like housekeeping or blood pressure checks or who offers cash or groceries in exchange for your number because that is Medicare fraud. Report Medicare or health care fraud to the SMP hotline at AgeOptions by calling (800)699-9043 and asking for SMP.
Imposters on the Phone

In another call to the SMP hotline this week, a woman reported that she had received multiple calls from scammers pretending to be other people or government agencies, including the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and one that pretended to be a nephew in trouble. These are called "imposter scams," which the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) summarizes as "a scammer pretends to be someone you trust to convince you to send them money."  

The scammer pretending to call from Social Security told her that they needed her Medicare number and medical records to see if she qualified for a bigger payment. The government will never call you without sending a letter first and will never ask for your personal information because these agencies already have it.

The scammer who pretended to be her nephew calling for help in an emergency was trying to pull a "Family Emergency Scam," which is the same thing as the "Grandparents Scam" but a scammer can pretend to be any family member or friend in need. If anyone calls you saying they are any friend or relative in trouble and need you to send money immediately, verify that this really is the person you know. Even if the person on the phone says to not tell anyone else, you need to take the time to make sure it is real. You should share these stories with friends and relatives so they are aware of this scam too. 

WGN ran a story last week about a new twist in the Family Emergency Scam where scammers ask for iTunes cards. Watch this news report here: "Rising Number of Consumers Falling Victim to iTunes Card Fraud."

The FTC just introduced a new webpage to detail common imposter scams like the ones this woman received. Visit to learn more. In another twist on this story, all of these scam calls to this woman were in Spanish meaning that scammers are targeting all communities. The FTC has a Spanish version of their Imposter Scam page called Estafas de Impostores.

The good news in this story is that this woman did not give any information to these imposters because she had heard the SMP message and was suspicious of each scammer.

AgeOptions Ideogram


Jason B. Echols, MSW,
Health Care Consumer Protection Coordinator
1048 Lake Street, Suite 300
Oak Park, IL 60301
phone (708)383-0258 fax (708)524-0870


AgeOptions, the Area Agency on Aging of Suburban Cook County, is committed to improving the quality of life and maintaining the dignity of older adults and those who care about them - through leadership and support, community partnerships, comprehensive services, accurate information and powerful advocacy.

Fraud Alerts contain information about current scams taking place in Illinois, announcements and updates about programs or services related to health care and/or fraud protection, and links to news articles about health care and fraud topics. Please forward any recommendations or announcements that you would like to be included in a future Fraud Alert to