In Florida, federal officials have laid charges on 25 individuals for their involvement in a fraudulent wire operation. Their criminal scheme allowed unqualified individuals to become nurses and receive employment without completing the necessary requirements.
Federal grand jury indictments that were recently made public indicate that the accused were involved in a scam which sold over 7,600 false nursing degree diplomas from three nursing schools located in Florida.
During a news conference in Miami on Wednesday, officials from the federal government spoke about the criminal plot. Each accused individual is facing a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for their participation.
The three educational institutions involved were Siena College, Palm Beach School of Nursing, and Sacred Heart International Institute. Since being caught, they have ceased operations and closed their doors.
The Miami Herald reported that many individuals from South Florida’s Haitian-American community, which included some with valid LPN certifications, purchased degrees in order to become registered nurses.
Special Agent in Charge Chad Yarbrough made a statement, sharing that, “Health care fraud is nothing new to South Florida, as many scammers see this as a way to earn easy, though illegal, money.”
It has been reported that in the period between 2016 and 2021, students shelled out a staggering amount of $114 million to obtain these fraudulent degrees.
Of the 7,600 students who purchased these bogus credentials, 2,400 of them ultimately managed to pass the licensing tests- primarily in the state of New York. This certifies the nurses to practice in the state of Florida and other states as well.
Although these people may be stripped of their certification, federal authorities have stated that they are unlikely to be prosecuted criminally.