An insurance scam that targets US military personnel has been exposed, resulting in the theft of over $5 million of taxpayer funds last year.
According to an investigation done by CBS News, undercover reporters discovered that a series of genetic tests purportedly used to assess cancer risk were being conducted and billed by Cockerell Dermatopathology in Dallas, Texas- with Tricare users being the primary target.
Using makeshift clinics in strip malls like the one outside Fort Hood, the Laboratory enticed soldiers and their families to undergo the genetic testing, often charging Tricare for unneeded screenings at a premium rate.
CBS discovered that from summer of 2015 to February 2016, soldiers would line up every day to provide their DNA, Tricare ID cards and urine for a $50 Wal-Mart gift card.
“It was a lot of people. It was full,” said military spouse Linda Bozeman, who went to the clinic in order to make a little extra money for Christmas.
“They said they had this clinical research going and that they paid you by Wal-Mart cards, so you’d give your urine,” she said.
However, documents show that Cockerell Dermatopathology used the urine samples to bill Tricare 418 individual times, roughly $7,000 at the expense of the American taxpayer.
While the locations have changed several times over the years, the discarded trash left behind told CBS a different story- including vulnerable information such as the social security numbers, medical information and other private information belonging to soldiers.
When confronted by CBS News, dermatologist Dr. Clay Cockerell stood his ground.
I run a dermatopathology laboratory, I’ve been doing that for well over 20 years,” he said.
When asked about the lab he was seen outside of, he evaded investigators.
“I’m going to take off. That’s not my lab,” he said.
Contrary to Dr.Cockerell’s statement, representatives of Cockerell Dermatopathology confirmed that the lab does belong to him, citing that “there is a possibility that individuals were operating outside of the organization’s strict compliance requirements.”
While the lab claims it is voluntarily refunding “significant amounts of money”, it did not specify to whom the refunds are going to or in what amount. Meanwhile, the Pentagon told CBS that they cannot discuss whether or not they are investigating the matter.
Yesterday, Cockerell Dermatopathology issued a press release contesting the accusations made against them.
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