A Delray Beach man, Charles William McElwee, has been sentenced to 41 months in prison for his role in a Medicare fraud scheme, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. McElwee pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) by buying and selling more than 2.6 million Medicare beneficiary identification numbers and other personal identifiers. The sentencing took place in Miami, with U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas presiding.
McElwee admitted that he and his co-conspirators used “data mining” and “social engineering techniques” to collect Medicare beneficiary information, which McElwee then advertised and sold online in 2021 and 2022. The stolen information included beneficiary names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and Medicare beneficiary identification numbers. The indictment revealed that some of the illegal transactions involved foreign actors, including sellers in the Philippines and buyers in Egypt.
McElwee’s conviction was one of the first under MACRA, which makes it illegal to buy, sell or distribute without lawful authority Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary numbers. Medicare beneficiaries who believe they have been a victim of medical identity theft can file a complaint with the HHS-OIG hotline by calling 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477) or with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by calling 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).
The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security-Office of the Inspector General and FBI office in South Florida.
Protecting Yourself from Medical Identity Theft
If you are a Medicare beneficiary, it is important to protect yourself from medical identity theft. Make sure to review your Medicare Summary Notice and Explanation of Benefits statements to ensure that all charges are legitimate. Never give out your Medicare number to anyone who contacts you by telephone, email or in-person unless you have initiated the contact. Also, be wary of unsolicited requests for your Medicare number, and never carry your Medicare card unless you are going to a medical appointment. By taking these precautions, you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim of medical identity theft.
Medicare fraud is a serious crime that can have devastating consequences for both victims and perpetrators. If you believe you have been the victim of Medicare fraud or medical identity theft, it is important to report it to the appropriate authorities as soon as possible. By doing so, you can help prevent others from becoming victims and ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions.