NOTE: National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is 26 September 2015, from 10AM
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Pentagon warns of Tricare mail scam
By Patricia Kime, Staff writer 8:54 a.m. EDT September 3, 2015
The Defense Health Agency is warning Tricare beneficiaries of an elaborate mail
scam designed to steal money from their banks.
According to the DHA Office of Program Integrity, some Tricare beneficiaries
received letters from a bogus company called Tricare Survey Inc., offering them
the chance to work as "secret shoppers."
The mailings instruct recipients to cash enclosed checks for $3,775 at their
banks, keep a percentage of the money for themselves and use the rest to buy six
$500 shopping cards to be used at retailers for "secret shopping" excursions.
But when recipients report the card numbers to the company, as instructed in the
letters, the fraudsters use the numbers to transfer the amount to their own
In the alert, issued by the Defense Department on Sunday, Tricare officials
"strongly advised" beneficiaries not to participate in the scheme, saying they
may be held accountable by their banks for the money.
"Tricare will identify the checks as counterfeit . and return them to the bank
in which they were drawn from as non-cashable. Potential exists for the
beneficiary to be personally liable for the entire $3775.00," the notification
Companies and individuals target military personnel and families with scams with
such frequency that in 2012, federal and state law enforcement agencies created
a database of offenders, called the Repeat Offenders Against Military database.
Earlier this year, for example, Tricare beneficiaries were lured by compounding
pharmacies and marketers to fill prescriptions for pain creams, ointments and
other topical medicines they didn't necessarily need, costing the government
nearly $1 billion.
The FBI, Defense Criminal Investigative Service and Justice Department are
investigating some of the companies and individuals involved, according to
government officials, and recouping some of Tricare's losses.
In July, the Justice Department settled allegations of improper prescriptions
with Blanding Health Mart Pharmacy of Jacksonville, Florida, for $8.4 million.
And in June, the government settled for $3.78 million with MediMix, a
compounding pharmacy company also based in Jacksonville, Florida, on allegations
that its top referring physician sent hundreds of improper prescriptions to the
company. The doctor was married to a MediMix senior vice president.
The Defense Department changed its reimbursement policy for compounded
medications on May 1, effectively shutting down the opportunity for companies to
be reimbursed for questionable prescriptions.
But DoD's Defense Criminal Investigative Service continues to investigate some
pharmacies and marketing companies as well as other cases of health care fraud
involving Tricare, according to DoD Inspector General spokeswoman Bridget
Serchak said the sheer size of the defense health program budget makes it an
attractive target and Tricare beneficiaries can do their part in preventing
"This isn't a victimless crime," she said. "The more [the government] pays out
for fraudulent claims, the harder it is to keep the costs down for legitimate
Defense health officials urge anyone who received a secret shopper letter to
submit a report to the DHA Program Integrity Office. They can do so online
<http://www.health.mil/fraud> on the office's web page by clicking the "
<http://www.health.mil/fraud> Report Health Care Fraud" button.
SOURCE: Military Times Article at
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