Man Sought Kickbacks for Coronavirus Tests: Prosecutors

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey say a Georgia man used concerns over the coronavirus in a bid to defraud Medicare out of more than $1.1 million.

Erik Santos, 49, of Braselton, Georgia, was arrested Monday at his home by FBI agents and was due to make his initial court appearance later in the day. He was charged with conspiracy to violate the federal anti-kickback statute and conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

Santos operates a marketing company that since November had steered people with Medicare to diagnostic testing facilities for genetic cancer screening tests in exchange for kickback payments, prosecutors said, noting those tests weren’t always necessary.

When coronavirus cases began to crop up across the country in recent weeks, prosecutors said Santos expanded the scheme to get payments for individual coronavirus tests, provided the tests were bundled with a much more expensive respiratory pathogen panel (RPP) test. The latter test does not identify or treat coronavirus, prosecutors said.

Santos’ scheme aimed to submit more than $1.1 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare, prosecutors said.

Santos could face up to 15 years in federal prison if convicted on both counts. It wasn’t known if he’s retained an attorney.