Authorities conducting a field operation targeting ambulette service providers in Sheepshead Bay issued $7,600 in fines and seized two vans in just one day.
The Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) and the Taxi and Limousine Commission teamed up to investigate potential fraudulent activities among ambulette services, stopping the vehicles on and around Coney Island Avenue and Coney Island Hospital on Tuesday, July 10.
According to OMIG, 15 investigators were deployed, yeilding:
- Four unlicensed or unqualified drivers;
- Two vehicles not licensed by TLC – both vans were seized;
- Ten summonses issued for lack of paperwork or proper decals on display;
- A total of $7,600 in fines based on the summonses.
Investigators also verified that all passengers involved were Medicaid recipients.
“Allowing untrained drivers to operate these vehicles in New York is an expensive roll of the dice,” said Medicaid Inspector General James Cox. “The millions of dollars spent on these services risk the lives of pedestrians, motorists and patients, all the while ripping off taxpayers. The streets of New York are safer today, thanks to this operation. “
The Sheepshead Bay field operation scored a bigger yield than the TLC-OMIG pilot program, which took place last month along Queens Boulevard. There they issued eight summonses and seized one van.
However, the Queens operation led to a valuable discovery that could save taxpayers money. Here’s how the TLC puts it:
Based on information provided by OMIG from the June 12 operation, TLC discovered that some ambulette companies may have used tactics that do not comply with New York State and New York City rules, including subcontracting vehicles and drivers. TLC investigators used that information during an independent transportation surveillance at a metropolitan hospital, leading to the seizure of six more ambulettes from a company that had committed a variety of infractions. OMIG and TLC will collaborate on further investigations of that company to determine if Medicaid had been overcharged for services based on evidence gathered from that operation. Further action will be taken as appropriate.