Medicare scam took millions from the elderly

The Federal Trade Commission said Thursday that it has shut down a scam in which millions of dollars were allegedly stolen from older people by callers who claimed to be working on behalf of Medicare.

At the agency's request, a federal judge in Florida issued a temporary restraining order freezing the operation's assets so that money can be returned to victims of the scheme. It was not immediately clear how many people were defrauded.

In the alleged scam, victims would receive a call in which they were told they would be getting a new Medicare card or receive Medicare benefits information, the FTC said. The caller would then request personal information, including bank account numbers, ostensibly to verify the person's identity.

Victims were assured that no money would be taken from their accounts. Over the next few weeks, however, the victim's bank account would be drawn down by either $399 or $448, the FTC said, through the use of remotely created checks. No product or serviced was provided in return for the money, according to the agency.

The defendants were charged with violating the FTC Act, which prohibits deceptive marketing and billing, and the Telemarketing Sales Rule. Defendants include Sun Bright Ventures, Citadel ID Pro, Benjamin Todd Workman and Trident Consulting Partners. All the companies are registered in Florida.


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    Mitch Lipka is an award-winning consumer columnist. He was in charge of consumer news for AOL's personal finance site and was a senior editor at Consumer Reports. He was also a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, among other publications.