ACR warns radiologists about fax fraud

June 17, 2009

The American College of Radiology has alerted members to a fax-based fraud that asks radiologists for business-related information that is then used to bill Medicare for fraudulent services.

The American College of Radiology has alerted members to a fax-based fraud that asks radiologists for business-related information that is then used to bill Medicare for fraudulent services.

The ACR learned that the faxes claim to originate from a representative of Medicare Fiscal Intermediaries (FIs). The faxes warn physicians who receive them that they risk losing Medicare reimbursement if they fail to fax back a completed questionnaire or respond to a toll-free phone number within 48 hours.

As of June 17, no radiologists had been victimized by the scam, according to an ACR spokesperson. An official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told the ACR the agency is looking into the matter.

Radiologists in solo or small group practices that are not supported by professional business management are particular vulnerable to the scam, said Tom Hoffman, associate general counsel of the ACR.

In a release, the ACR noted the disclosures are detailed enough to allow the recipient to set up a fake office and issued bogus Medicare bills for medical services. The scheme apparently funnels payments to offshore accounts.

The ACR posted a warning on its website after learning about the scam on June 12. News of the scheme originated from the Fairfield County Medical Association in Connecticut. It issued an e-mail alert to its members the week of June 7, noting that various county medical societies across the country had received the faxed information request.

A member of the Radiology Business Management Association passed the e-mail alert to Pamela Kassing, the ACR's senior director of economics.

The college urged members to refuse to disclose sensitive practice information, including their tax identification number, Unique Physician Identification Number (UPIN), or related data that could be abused.

Radiologists who receive a fax requesting such information were urged to contact their local Medicare carrier and county medical association. All information on the fax form should be considered fallacious, the ACR said.