A $310,000 Fort Lauderdale healthcare fraud: selling 2.6 million Medicare ID numbers

A South Florida man used the internet’s international reach and international contacts to add to the Miami metropolitan area’s status as the United States’ Medicare fraud capital.

When Broward County resident Charles McElwee posted an online advertisement promising “Medicare data for sale,” he told no lies. McElwee illegally acquired Medicare beneficiary identification numbers (BINs), formed a Fort Lauderdale company to sell them for around 12 cents a number and made $310,000 from selling 2.6 million BINs.

That’s in McElwee’s admission of facts from his guilty plea to one count of conspiring to violate the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015. That law makes it officially illegal to buy, sell, or distribute Medicare BINs without permission of the owner. Fraudsters use the BINs to commit Medicare fraud with fake claims.

McElwee, who was convicted of cocaine possession when he lived in Boynton Beach, is scheduled to be sentenced on April 7 in the Fort Lauderdale federal court of U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas.

If you think your Medicare or medical information has been stolen, call either the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General at 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477) or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at 800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

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Not love, but Medicare ID numbers for sale

McElwee’s guilty plea says he ran his information market from July 2021 through September 2022. On Dec. 14, 2021, he registered Lead Junkies with the state using the address of Suite 190A in 3303 W. Commercial Blvd., a massive office building in Fort Lauderdale.

State records say Lead Junkies was in 3303 W. Commercial Boulevard, Suite 190A.
State records say Lead Junkies was in 3303 W. Commercial Boulevard, Suite 190A.

McElwee posted the aforementioned ad on Dec. 7, 2021. The next day, a confidential source reached out to McElwee, who said, “I have quite a large amount of data available, do you need it for a certain vertical (market)?”

He also assured the law enforcement source, “I also work with a data mining company that produces fresh data daily that I have full access to as well” and “I’ve been working with the same guys for 3 years now, so I can get whatever is needed on demand within about 24 hours if special interest is desired.”

His price: 12 cents a file, a minimum buy of 5,000 files ($600).

Checking McElwee’s emails and bank records shows that he bought many of the BINs from “co-conspirators purporting to be in the Philippines. Similarly, those records show [McElwee] repeatedly sold and distributed the BINs to co-conspirators in the United States and abroad.”

Last April 5, McElwee gave a buyer a bargain, selling the BINs of 83,000 people to someone for $8,000. Overall, McElwee sold 2.6 million BINs and made $310,000.

This case was investigated by HHS-OIG and FBI Miami and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. attorney Jon Juenger.

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