Feds arrest 8 in giant wheelchair scam

Sunday, February 8, 2004

February 9, 2004

DALLAS - Federal authorities last week arrested eight people, including a doctor, for allegedly bilking Medicare out of $15 million in fraudulent power-wheelchair claims, according to the OIG.

The defendants recruited more than 1,000 Medicare patients or obtained their insurance information and filed Medicare claims, said Jane Boyle, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas.

The alleged crooks were paid for power wheelchairs but provided less-expensive scooters, if anything at all, Boyle said.

Recruiters allegedly approached senior citizens at gas stations, elderly care centers and apartment complexes and ask them if they would like a free scooter or wheelchair, authorities reported.

Recruiters would then obtain the patient's Medicare information or take them to a doctor who would process the claim, Boyle said.

All are accused of one count of health care fraud and could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

Dr. Lloyd McGriff of Cedar Hill and Ignatius Chuka Ogba, the owner of Dallas-based Universal Health Services, were accused of submitting the largest amount of claims, totaling $4.5 million.

Uko Edet Essien, owner of Medical Equipment & Supplies of North America in Dallas, is accused of filing $4 million in false claims. Emmanuel Uko Akpan is accused of filing $1.5 million through his Garland company, Stat Medical Equipment and General Services.

Accused of filing several thousand dollars in fraudulent claims were Donatus Daniel Usanga, owner of Mendus Medical Equipment and Supplies in Dallas; Michael D. Nsekpong, owner of Tachy Medical Equipment and Supplies in Dallas; and Patrick Oke Ekong and Affiong Ikpeme Ekong, both owners of a Richardson company, Upakeii Corp.