Dr. Gautam Gupta, 57, is wanted by the FBI for potentially defrauding insurance companies and Medicaid of millions of dollars in fake claims over the last ten years. Dr. Gupta specializes in weight-loss and has appeared in many radio advertisements.
Dr. Grupta is charged with one count each of conspiracy, mail fraud, and health care fraud. Prosecutors say all the charges are felonies. The criminal complaint is filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) believes Dr. Gupta has left the USA and may be hiding somewhere in India.
Ross Rice, of the FBI said that nobody knows where he is. “All we know for sure is that he is not at his residence or any of his clinics.”
Hundreds of non-existent or unnecessary procedures are alleged to have been made at Gupta’s clinics – an alleged scam that has conned money from private insurers and Medicaid, authorities say.
Between 2001 and 2010 Gupta’s clinics collected almost $25 million in insurance claims. The FBI has not revealed how much of that money is thought to have been the result of fraud.
An FBI probe included undercover agents who pretended to be patients. Authorities say they have liaised closely with former and current employees, as well as patients.
Patients said they were attended by nurses dressed in scrubs at clinics where Gupta worked. However, his clinics have no nurses. Ultrasound exams of thyroid glands and electrocardiograms were carried out by these mysterious staff members before the patients were seen by Dr. Gupta.
It appears Gupta pressured members of staff to add fictitious notes to patient charts so that extra tests could be carried out. Patients without insurance, on the other hand, hardly ever underwent any tests.
Insurance companies were billed for follow-up face-to-face visits that may not have occurred.
The FBI started its probe at the beginning of last year when agents carried out searches in Gupta’s nutrition clinics (5 of them).
Phone calls to his clinics on Friday were welcomed with a recorded message saying that Gupta was out of town. All the clinics are in the Chicago area. He operated clinics in Arlington Heights, Chicago, Naperville, Rockford and South Beloit. His last known address is in Rockford.
Rockford’s Nutrition Clinic’s answering machine had this message on Friday:
“To our current patients, please take note that due to Dr. Gupta being called out of town unexpectedly and the economy, the South Beloit and downtown Chicago offices will be closed permanently.”
In 1999 Gupta’s controlled-substance license was suspended for one year because, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, he had failed “to properly apprise female patients of the procedures required in heart and lung examinations” and was unaware “of inventory and record-keeping requirements regarding dispensing of controlled substances.”
Gupta had also been accused of insider trading by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to authorities, if convicted, he could be facing a 35-year prison sentence.
Dr. Gupta is described as (Click here to see photo):
- 5 feet 5 inches tall
- 160 pounds
- Brown eyes
- Gray black hair (in a ponytail)
If anybody has any information about him, the FBI has offered this telephone number: (312) 421-6700.
The FBI says it is working closely with the Illinois State Police, the HHS-OIG and the Medicaid Fraud Control Bureau.
On its website, the FBI points out:
” The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”
“Fraud Charges Filed Against Weight-Loss Doctor”
FBI – Chicago Division
Written by Christian Nordqvist