Anonymous tip resulted in the conviction of four family members who devised an elaborate scheme to defraud state and federal governments; one defendant still at large
Attorney General John Kroger today announced that Rania Hamad, the ringleader in a major Medicaid fraud conspiracy, will serve 13 months in prison for stealing almost $100,000 from state and federal Medicaid programs. Hamad and two other family members paid $93,583.96 in restitution at sentencing, resulting in a full recovery for the State of Oregon.
“Today’s sentencing is a firm warning to those who steal from Oregon taxpayers and squander resources that are crucial to funding education, law enforcement and other programs,” said Attorney General Kroger. “This kind of fraud will not be tolerated.”
Rania Hamad (DOB: 05-15-76), her husband Zack Maysi (DOB: 07-28-65), and her mother, Nahla Awad (DOB: 11/1/37) pleaded guilty last month in Washington County Circuit Court to a variety of charges, including Theft in the First Degree and Making False Claims for Health Care Payment. A felony arrest warrant remains active for a fourth defendant, Ahmad Hamad (DOB: 03-03-63), who is believed to have fled the country.
An eight month investigation conducted by the Oregon Department of Justice Medicaid Fraud Unit and U.S. Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General revealed that between 2006 and 2009, Nahla Awad and Ahmad Hamad falsely claimed severe and progressive disabilities to qualify for government assistance. Rania Hamad, with the help of her husband Maysi, applied for funding through the Oregon Medicaid home care program to care for her brother and mother.
Their scheme began to unravel in early 2009 when an anonymous informant called the Oregon Department of Human Services, who in turn contacted the Department’s Medicaid Fraud Unit. The tipster reported that Rania Hamad was scamming the system and was not actually providing care to Awad and Ahmad Hamad.
In fact, Nahla Awad was in Abu Dhabi for 31 of the 48 months in which Rania Hamad was her supposed caretaker. Medicaid and Social Security payments were remitted to Nahla while she was outside of the United States and therefore ineligible for benefits. Rania’s brother, Ahmad, was also overseas for six of the nine months she was supposedly caring for him. Rania and her mother Nahla also lied about the nature of their relationship in order to qualify for funding as a homecare worker. The family members went to great lengths to facilitate the charade and continue receiving government funds.
As a condition of the plea agreement, the defendants have already paid full restitution to the Department of Human Services in the amount of $93,583.96. In addition to the restitution order, Rania Hamad was sentenced to 13 months prison and Zack Maysi and Nahla Awad were sentenced to probation. Nahla must also pay $8,131 in restitution to the Social Security Administration.
The case was jointly investigated by the Oregon Department of Justice Medicaid Fraud Unit and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“These important programs provide vital services to citizens in need,” said Sarah Poindexter, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. “We will work with our local law enforcement partners to root out fraud and abuse in these programs.”
Senior Assistant Attorney General Donna Maddux prosecuted the case for the Department of Justice.
Attorney General John Kroger leads the Oregon Department of Justice. The Department’s mission is to fight crime and fraud, protect the environment, improve child welfare, promote a positive business climate, and defend the rights of all Oregonians.
Tony Green, (503) 378-6002 firstname.lastname@example.org