October 29, 2003
HONOLULU – The Executive Office on Aging’s SageWatch
Program wants to caution consumers about a scam that is defrauding
Medicare. The scam usually starts with someone approaching an elderly
person and offering to help them get a "free" scooter. To do this they
need the person’s Medicare number. A
Medicare number is the same as your Social Security Number; never give
either to a stranger.
If a person does supply personal information, the scam artist may
come back with a scooter, they may take the elderly person to a
"clinic" to see a doctor, or they may never come back. Regardless of
the outcome in most cases, the individual’s Medicare account
still will be charged.
If a scooter is supplied, the criminal tells the recipient it costs
around $5,000. (This is NOT true. A power scooter costs around $2,000
and is never referred to as a "wheelchair" by Medicare.) This
information is given to the recipient so they will not become
suspicious when their Medicare Summary Notice shows a power wheelchair
at a cost of over $5,000. If Medicare were properly billed for the
product received, the Medicare Summary Notice would use the initials
"POV" and show a charge for about $2,000.
If Medicare gets billed for something not received, it might affect
the individual’s ability to get the product in the future, when
it’s really needed.
Medicare will pay for a scooter if you
qualify, and you should have a scooter if you need it. What you
don’t need is a stranger taking you to a doctor you do not know.
Your own doctor can qualify you and direct you to a reputable dealer.
The "free" scooter scam is just another way for criminals to steal tax
dollars from Medicare.
If someone you don’t know offers to help you get something for
free, stop and ask questions. Don’t provide any personal
information until you have checked them out thoroughly. One way to do
this is to call the Better Business Bureau. If you suspect that you
have been a victim of Medicare fraud, take the time to report it by
calling SageWatch at (808) 586-7281 or toll free at (800) 296-9422 or
the Better Business Bureau at 536-6956 or toll free at (877)
For more information, contact:
SageWatch Program Coordinator
Executive Office on Aging
Phone: (808) 586-7281
Laura M. Lott
Department of Health
Phone: (808) 586-4418