South Carolina man put military members at risk in 7-figure health care fraud, officials say
The State August 15, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — A South Carolina man is going to prison for his role in a health care scheme that targeted veterans and active members of the military among others, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Travis Anthony Mason, a 52-year-old Aiken resident, was sentenced to 2½ years in federal prison after pleading guilty to health care fraud, where nearly $2 million was illegally taken from the federal government, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
“Mason’s criminal acts jeopardized the health and well-being of unsuspecting victims, many of whom have served or continue to serve our country in the military,” Steve Jensen, special agent in charge of the Columbia Field Office of the FBI, said in the release. Along with the FBI, the case was also investigated by the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General — Defense Criminal Investigative Service.
Through his company, M3 Medical LLC, Mason was involved in the marketing and sale of prescription compounded medications, which included various pain creams, according to the release.
Mason and his co-conspirators targeted individuals with federally funded health insurance plans, including TRICARE, that provided benefits for the compounded prescriptions, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. TRICARE is the health care program for uniformed service members, retirees, and their families that’s managed by the Department of Defense.
Aware that the compounded medication would yield a high reimbursement, Mason and his co-conspirators would get prescriptions for them — many of which were medically unnecessary — from a physician, and would then direct the prescriptions to be filled by specific compounding pharmacies, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
For every compounded prescription that was filled, Mason was paid a percentage of the reimbursement amount, according to the release. Over two years, Mason and his co-conspirators caused $1,966,194 in loss to TRICARE, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Information about how much money was lost from any other health care programs that might have been targeted in the scheme was not available.
“Travis Mason thought TRICARE and other federal health care programs were easy targets for fraud; he was sorely mistaken,” said Christopher Dillard, special agent in charge of the Department of Defense investigation. “Nationwide fraud schemes like this degrade our health care system. They also put the public and the military at risk.”
Mason’s 31-month sentence in federal prison will be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. There is no parole in the federal system.
Mason also was ordered to pay $1,966,194 in restitution, according to the release.
“Fraud of health care programs steals resources from people who need care and, in this case, from men and women who have bravely served our nation,” U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs said. “We stand ready to prosecute those who steal from government programs to enrich themselves.”
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