Federal agents arrested 68 people in Puerto Rico on Wednesday morning as part of an investigation into alleged abuse of the Social Security Disability Insurance program, two people familiar with the operation said.
More arrests are expected. The bust appears to be one of the largest disability fraud cases ever assembled by federal investigators.
Update: From an Associated Press article:The identity of those arrested couldn't be learned immediately. One person familiar with the arrests said it included two psychiatrists, one physiatrist, a secretary, and a person who works to help people win disability benefits. The person said the probe centers on alleged abuse of the federal program over several years that could have helped scores of people obtain benefits who should not have qualified.
Those charged include three doctors and 71 Social Security claimants accused of receiving more than $2 million in disability benefit payments. But the biggest haul allegedly went to a former Social Security worker accused of taking $2.5 million while directing claimants to doctors who would file false claims. ...
The former Social Security worker claimed to help clients seeking benefits and directed them to doctors who would earn up to $500 for each fake claim, said Ed Ryan, New York-based special agent in charge of the Inspector General's office of the Social Security Administration's investigations office.
Rodriguez said agents took videos of people that belied their claimed ailments. She said one who claimed back problems was a gym owner who posted a picture of himself on Facebook lifting a girl above his head. ...
Rep. Sam Johnson, a Texas Republican and the Social Security chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee, said he will discuss the Puerto Rican case during a September hearing.
"Clearly this isn't a case of just a few bad apples," he said in a statement. "That such fraud could occur in the first place raises serious and troubling questions regarding Social Security's management of the disability program."