A South Carolina man pleaded guilty this week after it was discovered he defrauded nearly $200,000 in health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs – even though he has never served in the military.
Prosecutors said the man was suspected of pulling a similar stunt in 2005, the Charlotte Observer reported.
A Justice Department press release said that Keith Hudson, 70, falsely acquired $197,237 in VA health care benefits after lying about his military service.
Hudson applied to the VA in Charleston in 2015 using falsified forms from the Department of Defense.
On his application, he stated that he was in the Navy and saw combat as a medic in Vietnam, suffering wounds and other trauma. He also claimed to have received two Purple Heart medals for his service.
An investigation conduced by the VA Office of Inspector General revealed that the information Hudson listed on his forms did not match up with military records.
Hudson used a mismatched rank number, put down awards that were not apart of the Navy and improperly cited his Purple Heart recognition.
There were also inconsistencies in the typeface used on the documents and a stamp from the Alaska Defense Force, which is not an official military organization.
The DOJ report noted that Hudson had previously been prosecuted for the same scam back in 2005. He had been placed in a pretrial diversionary program.
These new charges could see Hudson facing up to 10 years in prison.
United States Attorney Sherri Lydon stressed the severity of Hudson’s actions in taking valuable resources away from true veterans in need.
“This is a particularly awful type of white collar crime. Veteran health benefits are for those who served our nation in the military. The VA has limited numbers of physicians and resources. There is not much to spare. Every dollar and every minute of time stolen from the VA is something that is stolen from a veteran. VA fraud is on the increase, and so we are grateful for the work of the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General for their investigative work on the case,” Lydon said.
From April to October 2017, the VA Office of Investigations made 80 arrests and recovered $2.9 million in restitution, fines and penalties from VA health care benefits fraud.
Resident Agent in Charge for the IG in Asheville, G. Scott Bailey, also highlighted the need for cases like these to be reported.
“We aggressively investigate cases where individuals defraud the VA and take benefits meant for our nation’s veterans,” he said. “If anyone has any knowledge of fraud going on at the VA, please call. We’ll investigate.”