An Armenian-American gang was busted Wednesday for running a $163 million scam that used phantom clinics and bogus patients to rip off Medicare, authorities said.
More than 70 gangsters and their associates were arrested in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Atlanta in what authorities said was one of the biggest Medicare scams ever.
Federal authorities also busted a vor, a Eurasian version of a godfather, who headed the ring, New York Daily News reports.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the scheme was so large it "put traditional Mafia to shame." The whole operation was headed up by a traditional vor, or Mob godfather, prosecutors said, and Bharara said it was the first time a vor had been charged in a federal racketeering case.
Authorities said they began the investigation after 2,900 Medicare patients in upstate New York reported their information-including Social Security numbers and birth certificates-stolen.
In New York alone, more than $100 million in fraudulent bills were submitted, and Medicare paid out at least $35 million, sometimes by wiring it directly to the criminals' bank accounts, according to reports Daily Beast.