The accused and a number of unnamed co-conspirators gamed the system to the tune of $1.5m, say US law enforcement officials
In November 2010, Nailya Babaeva, a Russian citizen in the US, allegedly applied for pregnancy benefits under Medicaid, a federally funded programme that is meant to help needy families get access to healthcare.
Ms Babaeva, who was pregnant with twins, lived in New York, where women can get immediate access to prenatal care under the programme based on a preliminary income assessment.
For her initial application to succeed, Ms Babaeva would have had to show that her household income was no more than $3,052 per month.
According to a criminal indictment unsealed in New York earlier this week that includes details of the case, that’s exactly what she allegedly did, supplying in a letter signed by an employee at her husband Timur Salomatin’s workplace reporting his salary as $3,000 per month.
After their twins were born, a renewal application was allegedly filed around June 2011, claiming that Mr Salomatin’s pay had risen to $4,400. Ms Babaeva also claimed that she paid $500 per month in rent.
The truth, it is alleged, was that the house her family lived in was owned and paid for by her husband’s employer, and that, from at least June 2011 to December 2011, when Mr Salomatin’s employer deposited his pay directly in his bank account, he was being paid an average of $5,160 per month.
Earlier that year, in February, when Mr Salomatin took out a credit card, he is said to have told the bank his income was even higher at $8,333 a month.
What the indictment claims is that a number of Mr Salomatin’s colleagues and their spouses, 49 people in all, have followed the same general pattern – juicing benefits from Medicaid by underreporting their income, and then backing up the lies by producing letters from their place of work