Phone scam targets Medicare drug users

Posted: Tuesday, October 10, 2006

People receiving Medicare benefits are being targeted in a scam involving false offers of refunds for prescription drugs.

A group calling itself the National Medicare Foundation or the National Medicare Agency reportedly is contacting beneficiaries telling them Medicare wants to send them a refund for prescription drugs or other services, according to J. R. Trombley, Aging and Disability Resource Center coordinator in Soldotna.

Trombley said the group is calling people who receive Medicare benefits — seniors and others — and asking them for their bank account routing number so the refunds can be deposited directly into their checking accounts.

“There haven’t been any reports (of calls) here locally,” Trombley said Friday.

“The first calls were reported down in Des Moines, Iowa,” he said.

Kathy Romain, administrative assistant at the Kenai Senior Citizens Center, also received the scam alert, and said, as of Friday, she had not received any reports of people in Kenai getting fraudulent solicitations.

“We received the message from Essien (Ukoidemabia); she’s the one who trained all of us,” said Romain, about the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services representative who trained area senior services providers on the Medicare prescription drug Plan D program implemented in January.

Federal investigators have reportedly tracked the calls as originating in Canada.

Senior citizens or other Medicare recipients who receive a phone call asking for bank routing numbers should not provide the information, and should report the call to police, according to Trombley.

“If the people want to share the (scam call) information with us, they can call me at the Kenai Peninsula Independent Living Center at 262-6333,” he said.

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