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Insurance agent charged with Medicare fraud

POSTED: July 29, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Tom Reed/The Times

Lonnie Robinson, left, is put in a car by Doug Gaddis of the Insurance Commissioners office. Robinson was arrested at his South Hall home early Friday morning for two counts of Medicare fraud.

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FLOWERY BRANCH — An insurance agent from Flowery Branch was arrested Friday morning on allegations that he forged Medicare applications of two elderly women in order to receive a commission check.

Lonnie Robinson, 59, was arrested shortly after 6 a.m. Friday at his home in the Legend Falls subdivision and charged with two counts of insurance fraud.

Georgia Department of Insurance officials say they began investigating Robinson, a Gwinnett County insurance agent, after two women notified them that their Medicare plans had been changed to the Medicare Advantage program without consent.

One victim, a 74-year-old Gainesville resident who declined The Times’ request for an interview, discovered she had been fraudulently signed up for the Medicare Advantage plan when she attempted to pick up a prescription and was told it was no longer covered by Medicare, according to Glenn Allen, a spokesman for the state’s insurance commissioner.

A 90-year-old Norcross woman also found that she had been signed up for Medicare Advantage without her permission. The woman’s name was misspelled on the application and she was listed as a male, Allen said.

Authorities believe there could be more victims, Allen said.

John Oxendine, the state’s insurance commissioner, stood by while Hall County Sheriff’s deputies and department of insurance officials apprehended Robinson. He said Robinson’s arrest was the fifth of its kind this year.

Oxendine said insurance commissioners across the country are noticing that the Medicare Advantage program particularly has made it easy for insurance agents to take advantage of elderly people.

"Crimes against senior citizens (are) a major problem," Oxendine said. "Medicare Advantage, specifically, has become very rampant across this entire country."

Oxendine said the compensation system that awards insurance agents anywhere between $500 to $600 for signing people up for Medicare Advantage, and the fact that applicants do not have to pay for their insurance makes the elderly more susceptible to fraud.

"I sign you up, you don’t have to give me any money, I turn in the paperwork and the federal government pays me the commission," Oxendine said. "And that’s what happened in these two cases."

Robinson is being held in the Hall County Jail on a $5,000 bond.



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