Everyday scams are uncovered by investigators that shed light on the lengths some will go to in order to make a buck. Many times these scams take advantage of unsuspecting consumers who simply lack the common sense to know they are being swindled. However, when the victims of the scam are Medicaid recipients in need of new wheelchairs, it’s hard to take such a callous stance as ‘let the buyer beware’.
From 2006-2012 Michael Mann, owner of a company called Wheelchair Plus Inc. of Thurston County in the state of Washington, bilked the state Medicaid system out of more than $600,000. Mann’s scam was to buy wheelchairs online (often through Craigslist and nursing homes), give the wheelchairs a fresh coat of paint, put a new label and serial number on the wheelchair and then re-sell the wheelchairs to Medicaid customers claiming the refurbished wheelchairs were new. He chairs were in poor shape when Mann purchased them, some rundown and barely operational.
Not only were the wheelchairs not new, none had been repaired in any way with the only work being done was nothing more than a cosmetic touch up with new paint. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is charging Mann and Wheelchair Plus Inc. with first-degree theft and falsifying Medicaid statements.
After selling the wheelchairs, Mann would submit false claims to Medicaid saying he provided the customers with a brand new item. The real indignity of the crime is that State Medicaid recipients are often low-income. Mann’s arraignment is scheduled for August 12th in Thurston County Superior Court.
Anytime a scam is uncovered it is unsettling to know that such acts are a part of daily life. But when the victims are poor, disabled or children it makes it harder to believe that someone would stoop to such a low level for nothing more than money. It is unsure what kind of sentence Mann would face if found guilty but we’re hoping community service, especially for the disabled, should be included.