A Genetic Testing Scam Preying on Seniors’ Fear of Cancer May Be Costing Taxpayers Millions
SENIOR SCAM WARNING: Only a doctor you know and trust should order and approve any requests for genetic testing
Ken and Judy Johnson, a pair of retirees from Austin, were at a Fort Lauderdale arts festival when they were approached to get their DNA tested. "The company, Genexe Health, billed itself as a genetic testing "one-stop shop." With a quick cheek swab, the Johnsons could learn if they carry any genes that make a cancer diagnosis more likely. They were also told the tests would cost them nothing, that Medicare would foot the bill, and that they would get the results in four to six weeks. That was almost a year ago. Since then, they've received no test results, but their Medicare accounts were charged for a slew of genetic tests amounting to thousands of dollars. Judy's account was billed more than $10,000 and Ken's more than $8,300." That's when the Johnsons realized they had been scammed.
CBS News reports "there is an explosion of marketing companies hiring local recruiters to go anywhere seniors hang out. The cancer test may be the hook, but the real goal is to collect as many Medicare numbers as possible. CBS News found one woman who was convicted in 2017 of a half a million dollar securities fraud pitching cancer tests in Youngstown, Ohio, for another company similar to Genexe. She was still on probation at the time. They also uncovered dozens more people who were recruited by other marketers. One woman's Medicare account was billed $7,000 after she was swabbed at a Georgia home and garden show, a man in Texas was charged more than $10,000, and an 85-year-old mentally disabled woman was swabbed by Genexe reps going door to door in North Carolina. That Medicare bill? More than $21,000."
Genexe Health is under federal investigation, and just last week the government warned Medicare beneficiaries about the most recent scam, saying "only a doctor you know and trust should order and approve any requests for genetic testing."
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