A chiropractor from Thief River Falls, Minn., has been charged with orchestrating an elaborate scheme to defraud health insurers by submitting claims for scores of services he never provided, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Steven R. Wiseth, 35, appeared Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer in U.S. District Court in St. Paul to face six counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
According to the indictment, from March 2013 through April 2015, Wiseth, who owns Health Quest Family Chiropractic in Thief River Falls, schemed to defraud health insurers by "submitting and causing the submission of false and fraudulent claims for chiropractic services."
Wiseth held many promotional events where he gave away free food and drink, prizes and gift certificates to get current and prospective patients to visit Health Quest, the indictment says. After those events, he billed insurance companies saying that he had provided chiropractic services to many of the people who had simply stopped by the events, using their personal and insurance information without informing them of what he was doing.
For example, on Feb. 13, 2014, Wiseth held "ValenSpine's Day" at Health Quest. He submitted bills to insurance companies claiming to have treated 219 patients on that single day, purporting to have provided 641 services, the indictment says.
In many bills, Wiseth dramatically misrepresented services actually provided to patients, prosecutors said. For example, he routinely submitted false bills for treatment with a "wobble chair," a device intended to develop core strength.
He falsely represented to insurers that the services were performed for at least eight minutes under the direct supervision of a health care professional when, in fact, he merely stocked his waiting rooms with wobble chairs where patients sat while waiting for their appointments, according to the indictment.
Over the course of two years, Wiseth billed insurance companies for more than $3.1 million, including for hundreds of treatments that were not provided or were overbilled, and the insurance companies paid him more than $1.1 million.
This case resulted from an investigation by the Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amber Brennan.