MEDICARE FRAUD SCANDAL IN CALIFORNIA CENTERS ON ARMENIAN IMMIGRANTS
An FBI investigation has resulted in the discovery of a fraud scheme in which Medi-Cal, the California state Medicare program, was bilked out of almost $1 billion. Of the 364 cases in which there is an indictment or an ongoing investigation, only a few do not involve ethnic Armenians. This consistency led to newspaper reports that struck some members of the Armenian community in Los Angeles as discriminatory, prompting many ethnic leaders to openly dispute the perceived connection between ethnicity and the fraud.
Since the late 1980s, over 200,000 Armenians have arrived in Los Angeles, the center of the fraud scheme, after receiving political asylum. Leaders defending their community are quick to point out that in the Armenia or the Soviet Union, corruption was a way of life. Armenia had one of the highest standards of living of any Soviet republic, which meant that it had one of the strongest black markets. Community leaders and scholars think this experience, not some supposed ethnic tendency, is the cause of the current scandal.
There is a history of immigrants from counties where corruption is common committing fraud against the government in the US. In 1984, over one hundred physicians from Vietnam were charged with filing false Medicare claims for hundreds of millions of dollars. And in 1991, a similar scheme to the one involving Armenians was discovered involving Filipino immigrants.
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