German man makes €6 million after setting up fake Covid-19 test centre

German man makes €6 million after setting up fake Covid-19 test centre
A Covid-19 testing centre at UZA. Photo by Helen Lyons/The Brussels Times

A 20-year-old man from Germany created a fake Covid-19 testing centre and made nearly €6 million in reimbursement from health insurance companies.

The district court found the man guilty of fraud. It is far from the only case of billing fraud at test centres, Die Welt reports.

The man realised that setting up Covid testing centres was a lucrative business, as organisations carrying out tests are refunded by the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (Kassenärtzliche Vereinigung in German).

He decided to set up a fraudulent test centre in Freiburg im Breisgau, near the French border.

While his ‘test centre’ never actually administered any tests, his invoices were still approved by a German health insurance company, after which he would send them to the association. The doctors association would then reimburse the test centre’s costs.

In four months, the man billed nearly 500,000 tests and received €5.7 million euros from the association.

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However, the huge sums of money in his bank account did not go unnoticed, as it was discovered by a bank employee who contacted the authorities. After investigation, the bank account was frozen and donated to the doctors association contracted by health insurance services.

On Monday, the young man was sentenced to a probationary period of one year, after which the court will decide whether to impose a sentence. In addition, he has to pay a fine of €1,500 to a charitable organisation.

A ‘crazy party idea’

According to a report by regional news media SWR, the accused admitted in court that the ‘fake Covid test centre’ was a crazy idea that he came up with while partying. He “just wanted to show how easy it was to fool the insurance association”, the 20-year-old allegedly said.

He registered with the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians online, giving an address in Freiburg’s main party street, and calculated the price of 491,000 Covid tests for the months of March to June.

The fact that the accused could easily swindle such a large sum had a mitigating effect on the verdict, according to the SWR report.

According to the public prosecutor’s office, the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians trusted the information provided by the man - a very high sum in connection with corona billing fraud, the association’s spokesperson said.

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