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Courts / Law

Millions Stolen from Medicare Traced to Cuban Banks

medicare_fraud_0.jpg
FBI.gov

Federal prosecutors have charged a Miami man with laundering millions of dollars stolen from the Medicare program and funneling the money into Cuban banks. According to a Miami Herald report, this is the first time the Medicare money laundering scheme has been directly linked to Cuban banks.

Prosecutors in Miami say Oscar Sanchez, 46, was a key leader in a group that funneled more than $31 million in Medicare dollars into banks in Havana — the first such case that directly traces money fleeced from the beleaguered program into the Cuban banking system.

The scam artists allegedly moved money from fraudulent HIV treatment and medical equipment billings through Canada, Trinidad and eventually Cuba.

Prosecutors want Sanchez to be denied bond for fear he'll flee the country if released. The Herald reports that more than 150 Medicare scammers from South Florida have fled to Cuba and other Latin American countries to avoid prosecution.

Most of the fugitives were born in Cuba, immigrated to South Florida after 1990 and can easily live under the radar in Latin America with hundreds of thousands or millions in taxpayer dollars fleeced from Medicare. Even if fugitives can be located in Cuba, there’s no way to get them back because of the political realities at play.

So far, the news article has generated more than 40 public comments including some calling for the end of the "wet foot/dry foot" policy that allows Cubans to stay in U.S. if they make it to dry land without getting caught by immigration officials.