Sunday, October 29, 2000

Hospitals vulnerable to new scam

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Dozens of Ohio hospitals have been the target of a scam in which a bogus heating-repair business billed them for repairs that were never done.

        The Ohio Hospital Association says an accounts-payable coordinator at Bucyrus Community Hospital uncovered the scheme. The group this week warned Ohio's 175 hospitals by e-mail and fax and alerted the Ohio attorney general's office.

        Anita Bloomfield said she received an invoice from Starr Heating & Cooling, which states it has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago.

        It listed materials totaling $2,103 and $1,804 in labor charges.

        Ms. Bloomfield said a New York operator told her the address on the invoice was invalid and that the closest-sounding company was Star Systems.

        “I talked to a guy there who said he had received 20 other calls about the invoice,” she told the Columbus Dispatch.

        Mary Yost, the association's spokeswoman, said hospitals in Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming also reported receiving the fake invoice.


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