I received an unanticipated letter from the Social Security Administration enclosing my new Medicare Card and not really providing an explanation. I  was not expecting a new card, but I do know why I was issued a new one. Last fall I called to report suspected Medicare fraud. Monthly medical supplies that no one had ordered appeared on one of my “This Is Not a Bill” summary statements. I called the Fraud Hotline and was told they would investigate it. I was not the only one noticing these false billings to Medicare and insurance companies. The fraudsters count on people of a certain age to have multiple health issues so they can slip in an extra item or two. They also count on thousands of people not looking at their medical statements at all. I heard on the news that a possible two-billion-dollar billing fraud had been uncovered involving seven high-volume suppliers of medical catheters. These catheter billings targeted 450,000 people in 2023, up a bit from the 50,000 in 2022. Becoming the victim of any crime is never a good experience. Look at those statements.

Over the weekend we received a letter from our former mortgage holder confessing that we may have been the victims of a scam in their company where false accident and disability insurance was bought in our name and paid for by us through hidden fees. Not nice at all. We checked, and sure enough, we were defrauded $45.60 in 2010! Does not sound like much, but when multiplied by thousands of customers, someone made off with a sizable sum. Greed in all its forms is roundly condemned throughout the Scriptures. Fraud is lying, dishonesty, bearing false witness, thievery, covetousness, and worship of the false god mammon. Fraud deprives the widow of her dignity, the orphan of his future, and the neighbor of their livelihood. Corporate greed increases the cost of everything we use and need. Political greed costs self-respect, decency, and the courage of true convictions. Religious greed is another way of taking God’s name in vain. It manipulates people’s good hearts for personal gain by misusing the sacred and the holy. The threat of artificial intelligence (AI) is in its potential use for fraud and deceit, times a million.

What can we do about fraud? I suggest three on-going steps everyone should be taking:

Stay vigilant in the small and the large matters. Call out and expose fraud. Live in honesty through the power of Christ each day. 

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Be honest. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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