Dec. 22, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Two Queens pharmacy owners were busted by the feds Monday for ripping off the Medicare system to the tune of $30 million.
Peter Khaim and Arkadiy Khaimov were indicted in Brooklyn federal court yesterday for allegedly making more than $30 million worth of fraudulent claims for cancer drugs that were never prescribed by doctors, according to authorities.
The pair, who are both from Forest Hills, took advantage of eased drug prescription authorization rules during the pandemic to submit the claims. They then laundered their ill-gotten gains through several fake pharmacies and then bought real estate and luxury items, according to the indictment.
Khaim, 40, and Khaimov, 37, have both been charged with health care fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Khaim was also separately charged with aggravated identity theft.
Acting United States Attorney Seth DuCharme said that the defendants enriched themselves at the expense of taxpayer-funded health care programs.
“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants manipulated information in over a dozen pharmacies to defraud the Medicare program, including by taking advantage of systems that were intended to assist patients during the COVID-19 pandemic,” DuCharme said.
“[They] then went to great lengths to hide their ill-gotten gains through a network of sham companies,” DuCharme added.
Khaim and Khaimov used COVID-19 emergency override billing codes to submit fake claims to Medicare for the cancer drug Targretin Gel. The drug sells for around $34,000 at wholesale prices for each 60-gram tube, prosecutors said.
Khaim and Khaimov created sham pharmacy companies – named after pre-existing pharmacy wholesalers – and fabricated invoices for the drugs.
They then allegedly conspired with an unnamed international money launderer who arranged for their fraudulent funds to be wired to companies in China and distributed to people in Uzbekistan, according to authorities. They also got accomplices to transfer money to them through the fake companies.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said that Khaim and Khaimov used the pandemic as cover to take advantage of changes in the Medicare system.
“The changes to this program, funded by taxpayers, were put in place to help fellow citizens obtain needed medications during the pandemic, not line the pockets of fraudsters,” Sweeney said.