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A North Texas Couple Operated a $7 Million COVID-19 Testing Scheme

Two North Texas citizens pleaded not guilty on December 16 to accusations that they cheated insurers of more than $7 million via fraudulent COVID-19 testing. Terrance Barnard, 39, & Connie Jo Clampitt, 51, allegedly filed bogus claims for testing to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, Cigna,Humana, and Molina Healthcare, according to a statement issued by the United States attorney for the Northern District of Texas, Leigha Simonton.

The government contends that Barnard and Clampitt took advantage of medical and financial disarray to benefit themselves with millions of dollars over thirteen months.

Mr. Barnard is said to have utilized his job as a contract lab technician at numerous medical clinics to gather patient names, addresses, dates of birth, and insurance subscriber information. “He and Ms. Clampitt allegedly claimed to the patients’ insurers that they had COVID-19 testing done at advanced diagnostic laboratories, even though no such testing was undertaken and no such laboratories existed.”

Barnard and Clampitt were accused on December 5 on one count each of conspiracy to conduct healthcare fraud, ten counts of healthcare fraud, seven counts of the aggravated identity theft, and then one count each of conspiracy to commit serious money laundering. They were arrested on Thursday, December 15. Wednesday’s detention hearing will decide if they are eligible for bail release.

The indictment says that between March 2021 and April 2022, Barnard and Clampitt filed false claims via several bogus laboratories posing as test providers across Texas, including many in the Dallas/Fort Worth region.

“It was part of the conspiracy and artifice to defraud that Barnard and Clampitt constructed companies to make it seem like COVID-19 testing was conducted by advanced diagnostic labs, whereas in reality and fact, the laboratories as described did not exist,” the indictment alleges.

Allegedly, Barnard and Clampitt transferred the money they received for the bogus claims into the bank accounts set up for each one of the nonexistent clinics. The money was then transferred to the defendants’ personal accounts, where it was used to “buy real estate and expensive automobiles,” according to the statement.

Brandon McCarthy, Barnard’s attorney, has had the opportunity to study some of the material and notes that this kind of trial often takes an extended period. “Unlike most criminal cases, there is a great deal of data and information to go through in healthcare trials,” he explains.

“The COVID-19 epidemic has confronted our healthcare providers and insurance with the most trying conditions in decades,” Simonton said in a statement. The perpetrators of schemes to financially abuse the system while providers and insurers are experiencing such massive problems must be held accountable.

In the United States, COVID-19-related scams have amassed billions of dollars. Fraudulent jobless claims and the Paycheck Protection Program have contributed significantly, but healthcare-related fraud has also made its impact. In May 2021, the Department of Justice established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force, and by April 2022, it had charged over 4,000 defendants with more than $19 billion in COVID-19 testing and healthcare-related fraud.

During its investigation of Barnard and Clampitt, police enforcement recovered $1.5 million, according to the U.S. attorney. If convicted, the pair will be asked to forfeit any proceeds or property that is traceable to the crimes and face up to ten years in prison for each count of committed healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, as well as up to two years in federal prison for each count of aggravated identity theft.

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