PHOTO: An American Airlines A321. (photo via Flickr/Eric Salard)
American Airlines employees were the primary targets of an insurance fraud scheme that lasted more than five years and netted a whopping $16.7 million, according to an indictment announced by the U.S. attorney's office for the Northern District of Texas on Thursday.
The indictment charges 66-year-old Terry Anderson and his 36-year-old son, Rocky Anderson, with more than a dozen federal counts, including conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft.
The Andersons, who co-operated Anderson Optical & Hearing as state licensed fitters and dispensers of hearing instruments, are alleged to have executed a scam to defraud Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBS) between January 2011 and November 2016 under the guise of American Airlines workers.
The two men are accused of submitting claims for unnecessary hearing aids and even some that weren't delivered to the BCBS subscriber.
The indictment claims the Andersons targeted American Airlines employees because, prior to 2014, the airline's insurance plans through BCBS had no maximum limit on the cost of hearing aids and allowed subscribers to obtain the devices once per plan year or every 36 months.
"In 2013, approximately 84.6 percent of Anderson Optical & Hearing’s total income came from BCBS and 99.7 percent of the BCBS payments were based on claims submitted for American Airlines employees and their dependents," the U.S. attorney's office for the Northern District stated.
The Andersons allegedly promised BCBS subscribers free high-end sunglasses and prescription eyeglasses in exchange for taking a hearing test, after which they would inform patients that they had some level of hearing loss and needed to sign an order for hearing aids to receive their free gift.
The men are also alleged to have offered $100 gift cards to those who referred family members and coworkers for free hearing tests.
Many of the tests, which did not comply with BCBS's medical policies, were conducted in an employee break room at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and were completed in less than five minutes.
READ MORE: Marriott Continues to Warn About Phone Scam
The claims submitted to BCBS by the Andersons on behalf of American Airlines workers exceeded $27 million, with BCBS paying out nearly $17 million to Anderson Optical & Hearing.
The two men were scheduled to make their initial appearance in front of a judge Thursday. If convicted, they will be required to forfeit a 300-acre ranch in Bosque County, three vehicles and more than $3.1 million in money that was seized from multiple financial accounts in 2015.
The defendants also face significant fines and prison time if found guilty.