By Debbie Burke
When there’s a chance for profit, fraudsters never let a crisis go to waste.
One recent emergency was the 2022 shortage of infant formula, especially worrisome for parents of babies who have allergies or who need medical specialty formulas.
Vladislov Kotlyer, 43, of Staten Island, NY, saw the crisis as a profit opportunity. From March 2019 to October 2022, he collected $1.9 million from fraudulent claims to medical insurers and formula suppliers.
The Justice Department Criminal Division, the FBI, and US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York reported:
According to court filings, Kotlyar submitted forged prescriptions and medical records for specialty baby formula that was paid for by health insurers. Kotlyar obtained prescriptions and medical records for infants who were prescribed specialty baby formula and forged those records to obtain additional specialty baby formula. After receiving the specialty baby formula, Kotlyar fabricated issues with the shipments, including falsely claiming they were damaged or the incorrect formula in order to obtain additional formula at no additional cost. As part of the scheme, Kotlyar and his co-conspirators submitted more than $1.9 million in fraudulent claims to health insurers, including during a national shortage of baby formula.
On March 16, 2023, in federal court, Kotlyar pleaded guilty to fraud, agreed to forfeit $1 million, and pay more than $738,000 in restitution. He faces up to 20 years in prison for mail fraud.
No word about what happened to the baby formula that he obtained as a result of his false claims.
The CDC cautions: “If you buy infant formula online, only purchase from well-recognized distributors and pharmacies (not individual people or auction sites).”
TKZers: Anyone want to guess what happened to the extra formula?
Donated to an orphanage?
Sold out of a car trunk in a Walmart parking lot?
A really splashy gift for a baby shower?
Or something else?