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10 charged in healthcare money laundering scheme

The Justice Department, under U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, has charged 10 individuals with defrauding Medicare, Medicaid, private insurers, and several individuals. File Pool Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI
The Justice Department, under U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, has charged 10 individuals with defrauding Medicare, Medicaid, private insurers, and several individuals. File Pool Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The Department of Justice has charged 10 individuals in multiple states for defrauding healthcare providers, insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid.

The individuals were charged with business email compromise (BEC), money laundering, and wire fraud schemes targeting Medicare, state Medicaid programs, private health insurers, and other individuals.

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"The charges stem primarily from BEC schemes in which individuals posing as business partners are alleged to have fraudulently diverted money for victims' bank accounts into accounts they or co-conspirators controlled," reads a press release from the Department of Justice on Friday.

The conspirators used "spoofed email addresses, bank account takeovers, and similar fraudulent methods designed to deceive victims into believing they were making legitimate payments."

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In some instances, the conspirators emailed insurance companies from accounts impersonating hospitals requesting that future payments be made into new bank accounts. Five state Medicaid programs, two Medicare administrative contractors, and two private health insurers were allegedly tricked into making payments into the co-conspirators' bank accounts.

"These defendants defrauded numerous individuals, companies, and federal programs, resulting in millions of dollars in financial losses to vital federal programs meant to provide assistance to those in need," said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan.

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The individuals charged are:

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Biliamin Fagbewesa, 31, charged on Nov. 8 in the District of South Carolina with three counts of money laundering and one count of unlawful procurement of naturalization

Patrick Ndong-Bike, 32, charged on Nov. 15 by the Northern District of Georgia with four counts of money laundering.

Desmond Nkwenya, 35, charged on Nov. 15 by the Northern District of Georgia with two counts of money laundering and one count of bank fraud.

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Corey Smith, 29, charged on Nov. 15 by the Northern District of Georgia with three counts of money laundering.

Chisom Okonkwo, 26, charged on Nov. 15 by the Northern District of Georgia with three counts of wire fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and six counts of money laundering.

Olugbenga Abu, 45, charged on Nov. 15 by the Northern District of Georgia with one count of bank fraud, one count of wire fraud, and four counts of money laundering.

Trion Thomas, 50, charged on Sept. 21 by the Northern District of Georgia with conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The three defendants whose previous charges were unsealed are:

Malachi Mullings, 29, charged on Feb. 22 by the Northern District of Georgia with conspiracy to commit money laundering and seven substantive money laundering charges.

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Adewale Adesanya, 39, charged on June 2 by the Northern District of Texas with conspiracy to commit money laundering and use of a false passport.

Sauveur Blanchard Jr., 49, charged on Sept. 8 by the Eastern District of Virginia with conspiracy to commit money laundering and four substantive money laundering offenses.

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