A man who allegedly ran an insurance scam out of a Reseda office is wanted by the federal government for bilking Medicare of more than $2 million in fraudulent laboratory tests in one year.
Gevork Aidinian, 44, who is also known as Simon Shahapuny and who has listed residences in Glendale and Burbank, is wanted on charges of grand theft, identity theft, insurance fraud-false wiring, and health benefits fraud.
Investigators from the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services began the investigation March 24, 2009.
"The case agent began a series of bank seizures, starting on June 18, 2009, recovering over $1,194,272 of the taxpayers' money," said Brandy Colfescu, assistant special agent in charge for the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General.
A warrant was issued for Aidinian's arrest on June 17, 2009, with a court ordered bail of $770,000, she said.
"The agent did a tremendous job of identifying this fraud and recovering the stolen funds before they completely disappeared," Colfescu said in an email. "This was done in less than three months time and is extraordinary in a fraud case which can normally take years to complete."
Aidinian listed himself as the owner of American Premier Laboratory in Reseda. He also listed himself as the CEO of Labx, another company at the same location. He allegedly used the identities of physicians to bill Medicare for laboratory work that was never provided or prescribed between 2008 and 2009, Colfescu said.
Investigators interviewed doctors and patients whose identities were billed. They told investigators they never used American Premier Laboratory.
Colfescu said Aidinian purchased the billing information from individuals who specialize in organized schemes to bilk Medicare.
"The evidence received during the course of this particular investigation revealed that Aidinian obtained beneficiary information (billing information) by purchasing it from other individuals participating in organized schemes to defraud the Medicare program," Colfescu said.
"This clinical laboratory operated as a 'dry' lab. They billed for services that they didn't perform, had no patients/customers and no actual blood to even run through the lab instruments," Colfescu said.
His operation appears to be connected to Eurasian organized crime groups, Colfescu said.
"Many of the Eurasian organized crime groups use overlapping money laundering schemes," Colfescu said. "Some of Aidinian's laundering overlapped a larger organized crime case that was related to a Cleveland, New York and Los Angeles takedown in 2010."
Aidinian's whereabouts are unknown, but he did apply for an immigrant visa in Moscow in 2001, Colfescu said.
"The truth is he can be in Moscow, the US, or anywhere else using a different name," Colfescu said. "We continue to do our due diligence in turning up leads."
Among those from the Los Angeles area are Ekaterina Shlykova, who is wanted on 67 charges, including identity theft, money laundering, forgery and theft. Federal officials said she managed to charge Medicare $53 million by submitting false Medicare claims for dead beneficiaries and beneficiaries who lived out of the local area.
Also wanted is Susan Bendigo who is accused of billing Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, for $17.1 million in fraudulent claims. Investigators say Bendigo, a registered nurse who was the director of nursing for MedCare Plus Home Health Provider Inc. in Santa Fe Springs, sent unlicensed nurses to treat patients under Medi-Cal, even though she knew that Medi-Cal required licensed nurses to perform the work.
Investigators believe this occurred between May 2004 through May 2007. Authorities believe Bendigo may have escaped to the Philippines.