Three charged in O.C. medical insurance fraud
Three people are facing federal fraud charges after authorities allege they falsely billed health insurance programs for more than $50 million worth of cosmetic surgery.
A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted Vi Nguyen of Placentia, Theresa Fisher of Tustin and Lindsey Hardgraves of San Pedro on multiple counts of mail fraud tied to what authorities described as a scheme to lure patients to a surgery center in Orange for medical procedures that patients were falsely told would be covered by their health insurance plans, according to a U.S. Department of Justice statement.
Prosecutors allege that patients were told they could get “free or discounted cosmetic surgeries” such as “tummy tucks,” breast augmentation, “nose jobs” or liposuction in exchange for undergoing “multiple, medically unnecessary procedures,” such as endoscopies, colonoscopies and cystoscopies.
Nguyen, 31, and Fisher, 44, were consultants at an Orange-based surgery center known at various times as Empire Surgical, Vista Surgical or Princess Cosmetic Surgery, authorities said. Hardgraves, 30, was a marketer.
The alleged scheme resulted in more than $50 million worth of claims to union and PPO health-care benefit programs, authorities said.
Nguyen, Fisher and Hardgraves have been released on bond and ordered to appear for an arraignment July 28. Authorities say that if convicted, each faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each mail fraud count.
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