The cloud of disappointment, mismanagement and controversy surrounding the roll-out of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act provides a perfect cover for criminal mischief.
Honest magicians and dishonest con artists, both instinctively know that when we focus on one hand, they can accomplish their “business” with the other hand. It’s called misdirection.
The New York Times recently published a piece entitled: Con Men Prey on Confusion Over Health Care Act. The story uncovers multiple sketchy encounters, including a Southern California woman who had a con man visit her home in a brazen healthcare fraud scheme.
“Madeleine Mirzayans was fooled when a man posing as a government official knocked on her door. Barbara Miller and Maevis Ethan were pitched by telemarketers who claimed to work for Medicaid. And Buford Price was almost caught by another trap: websites that look official but are actually bait set by fly-by-night insurance operators.”
In the case of Ms. Mirzayans, the crookster (I love that term) was invited into her home, served refreshments and supplied with a mother lode of non-public personal data including her Medicare information and Social Security Number. After the strangely convenient home visit ended, the victim realized that she had been duped. The government imposter vanished into the snarled Los Angeles traffic without leaving a trace or any contact information.
In an effort to protect consumers and raise awareness about potential internet fraud, California State Attorney General Kamala Harris announced the shut down of 10 fake Obamacare websites that were luring unsuspecting online insurance shoppers into their lair.
“Harris said the fraudulent websites also appeared to violate other state laws that prohibit misleading advertising, falsely claiming a government connection and using an Internet domain name that is confusingly similar to the name of another entity.
She said the 10 sites that were removed had domain names similar to Covered California and contained unauthorized references to the official exchange’s trademarked logo and name.”
Amazingly, many health insurance shoppers who used the Google search engine were presented with ads for fake websites. This confirms that Google is being used by unscrupulous criminals to gather varieties of raw personal data. The theft and misappropriation of this stolen personal data fuels the growing American identity theft epidemic.
So the next time someone knocks, calls or trolls across your online search results screen, make sure to peek through the keyhole before opening Pandora’s Box.
What is your biggest health insurance security concern?
Dale Penn is a professional speaker, privacy advocate and commercial insurance broker. He is the author of the award-winning book, Identity Theft Secrets: Exposing The Tricks Of The Trade. Follow Dale on Twitter @DalePenn