Consumer Smart: Medicare Fraud and Lost Pet Scams

CORPUS CHRISTI (Kiii News) - Alan Bligh with the BBB joins John Thomas on 3 News First Edition to talk about Medicare fraud.


Each year mistakes, errors, schemers and downright crocks cause us as tax payers to lose billions of dollars due to unjust claims. Sometimes it's simply a billing error where a clinic, doctor or health provider makes a mistake in presenting their bills to Medicare. Other times it is intentional, presenting claims for services that were never given to a Medicare patient.

For example, billing Medicare for a power chair when, in fact, the patient only received a wheelchair. All a schemer needs is the person's Medicare card number and that can file a claim as a provider.

Bligh says there are two ways a person can address this problem. First, seniors and their caregivers need to be well versed on Medicare fraud, how it works and how to spot it, etc. Second, seniors can volunteer to serve as a member of the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP).

The Retired Senior Volunteer Program and BBB will be hosting a seminar on Tuesday, February 28 at the First Methodist Church to discuss this issue and scams in general that target seniors.

Scam of the Week

Bligh also talk about the scam of the week dealing with lost-pet scammers.

Bligh says consumers who advertise that their pet is missing need to beware of schemers who will take advantage of the situation.

Losing a pet is a devastating experience. When unscrupulous people who find ways to capitalize on your lost pet situation in order to dupe you out of money, the loss is even more devastating.

The BBB has received calls about scammers who are defrauding heart broken pet owners in order to line their own pockets and advises pet owners who have advertised a lost pet to be wary of the following two pet scams.

  • The Pay-Me-First Scam: The pet owner receives a phone call from a person claiming that they have the lost pet in their possession. This person asks that the reward money be sent to them before they return the pet. If the pet owner refuses, they will often threaten to hurt the pet in order to pressure the pet owner into sending money. Once the scammer receives the money, they are never heard from again.
  • The Tag Team Scam: You receive a call from someone who says that they think they have your pet. After talking to you for a while and getting information about your pet, they apologize and say that they are sorry, but it turns out that it is not your pet after all. They then give all the information about your pet to an accomplice. This is a set-up -- in a short time, the accomplice uses the information received about your pet and calls and claims to have found your pet and will try to collect any reward money in advance.

If you have a question for the Better Business Bureau, give them a call at 852-4949, or visit their website at


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