“This is a gold-rush area for folks. Afterward, she was irate to discover they had been roped into a scam. He’s worried his personal information will be misused. But he said he cut ties with the company on July 6 on the advice of his attorneys after receiving complaints about how seniors were being solicited for the DNA tests. Scammers can really cash in: Medicare pays an average of $6,000 to $9,000 for these tests, and sometimes as much as $25,000, according to the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services. The co-conspirators raked in $100,000 in commissions from labs that ran the tests, according to the government. The tests were handled by Pathway Labs in Colorado Springs, Colo. Pathway Labs CEO Rene Perez confirmed his lab handled about 20 tests sent in by Whole Home Solutions. DNA test scams appear to be ramping up: Complaints to the inspector general fraud hotline have poured in at rates as high as 50 per week, according to Sheila Davis, an OIG spokeswoman. Some solicitors try to scare seniors into cooperating, said Shimon Richmond, an assistant inspector general for investigations. “But the problem that we see right now is that it’s really picking up momentum on the national level. She said she was home one Sunday afternoon in early June when a man named Caleb knocked on her door, and said, “I’m here to do your DNA testing.”, “What are you talking about?” she recalled asking him. And taxpayers foot the bill for tests that may be unnecessary or inappropriate. Such experiences make him “reluctant to take on new business” from similar entities sending in DNA tests, Perez said. The inspector general issued a fraud alert in June, urging seniors to refuse unsolicited requests for their Medicare numbers and take DNA tests only with the approval of a doctor they know and trust. “I’ve lost my identity to these people,” he said. The 86-year-old woman in rural Utah doesn’t usually answer solicitations from strangers, she said, but the young couple who knocked on her front door seemed so nice. Capitalizing on the growing popularity of genetic testing, scammers are persuading seniors to hand over their DNA, not knowing it may lead to identity theft and Medicare fraud. As part of its case, the firm paid a government settlement in response to accusations that it billed Medicare for unnecessary tests; it did not declare bankruptcy after agreeing to repay the government, leaving taxpayers on the hook. “I’d lie awake thinking about it, saying, ‘You fool, you shouldn’t have done that. He reported the case to authorities as possible fraud. Sherry Swan is one of many Californians who have filed complaints with the state's Senior Medicare Patrol about potential fraud related to genetic tests. Although Medicare Some callers claim to work for Medicare, according to a fraud alert issued July 19 by the Federal Trade Commission. As in Dickey’s case, scammers often gain access to places that seniors trust by persuading gatekeepers to let them make presentations. She is among scores of older Americans who have been targeted in a scam that uses DNA tests to defraud Medicare or steal personal information. The company never sent results, he said. I’m extremely upset.”. Hacking your DNA: The big business -- and risk -- of home tests, What you're giving away with those home DNA tests, Your DNA is the next big privacy battleground, DNA test company 23andMe now fueling medical research. They warn seniors that they could be vulnerable to heart attacks, stroke, cancer or even suicide if they do not take the DNA tests. „ĞâîpQ.FÅ* ÍÄÛ …SB/ I work with homeless in the county,” said Swan, who is 64. However, Medicare will cover genetic testing … In Weslaco, Texas, Will Dickey, a 71-year-old retired police detective, submitted to a DNA test at a health fair in February. endstream endobj 421 0 obj <>/Filter/FlateDecode/Index[11 356]/Length 34/Size 367/Type/XRef/W[1 1 1]>>stream But it billed $32,212.86 to his Medicare supplement insurance plan. In Paducah, Ky., Donald McNeill, a 72-year-old Vietnam War veteran, was persuaded at an event at his senior center in December to submit a cheek swab for a DNA cancer screening.
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