Protect Your Dental Practice by Bonding Your Employees

Editorial
by Bryan Truitt and Jim Du Molin

Even if you have an internal controls system that makes embezzlement difficult, the danger of collusion still exists. (I’ve already told you that embezzlement is common, it can be detected, and it can be prevented.) One of the ways in which some dental practices protect themselves from employee dishonesty is by bonding their employees.

Bonding is the process by which an employer can be indemnified for the loss of money or other property sustained through dishonest acts of a “bonded” employee. Bonding can cover many types of acts including larceny, theft, embezzlement, forgery, misappropriation, wrongful abstraction, willful misapplication, or other fraudulent or dishonest acts committed by an employee, alone or in collusion with others.

There are several types of fidelity bonds. Discuss each with your agent to determine whether damages from negligence are covered. Basically, your practice has several options at its disposal:

  • Individual: covers one employee. Usually purchased by small practices or family-operated businesses with only one employee.
  • Name schedule or position schedule: covers either the employees or positions specified.
  • Blanket fidelity: covers all employees.
  • Commercial, blanket, and blanket position: provides multiple protection (comprehensive dishonesty, disappearance and destruction coverage, or a blanket crime policy).

There is wide choice in features and coverage as well as cost differences in bonding coverage. It difficult to understand why only two practices in ten have this economical insurance.

Next week, we’ll talk about what to do when you have discovered a problem.

Dentist Accused of “Biggest Ever” NHS Dental Fraud

Dental fraud by NHS dentistA dentist in the UK has been charged with one of the largest NHS dental frauds ever committed. The dentist, now suspended, is accused of stealing £1million from the National Health Service.

The dentist submitted as many as 5,000 false invoices between 2006 and 2009.

The Birmingham cosmetic dentist also operated a medical spa and advertised her services for dental Botox and dental makeover options such as braces and veneers.

Read more: Woman dentist charged with stealing £1m in ‘biggest ever’ NHS fake invoice fraud

Warning: Dentists Get Scammed for $50 Million

Dentists Get Scammed for $50 Million
Who can you trust?

Dentists and physicians are legendary for losing money to scam artists. But who would have thought two dentist would take their peers to the cleaners for $50 million.

What school did these guys go to?

Two Canadian dentists are being investigated by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) for an alleged $50 million Ponzi scheme.

According to the Star, in 2006 Peter Sbaraglia, DDS and his wife, Mandy Sbaraglia, DDS joined forces with Robert Mander, the mastermind of a Ponzi scheme that snatched the $50 million from naive investors.

The OSC’s Statement of Allegations states, “Sbaraglia, acting on behalf of CO Capital Growth, used investors’ funds to repay other investors and to pay for his and his family’s personal expenses and not for the benefit of CO investors. In addition, Sbaraglia and his spouse received over $2 million as purported profits earned by them in the Ponzi scheme.”

Fifty investors, many of who were dentists familiar with the Sbaraglias, may have lost up to $50 million in the scheme. Regulators calculate the amount as closer to $40 million.

The OSC claims that as much as $7 million of investors’ money remained in the Sbaraglias’ personal accounts and was never properly invested. Approximately $2 million was considered profits by the Sbaraglias and used for personal expenses. Another $2.4 million was lost in poor trades, and $585,000 was used to buy open venture securities. Much of the remainder of the money was used for business expenses, according to the OSC.

Rick McIntosh, Mandy Sbaraglia’s brother and former head of the Toronto Police Association, also lost money investing with CO Capital Growth. McIntosh and his wife invested about $1 million with the Sbaraglias.

Both Peter and Mandy Sbaraglia claim they are innocent victims and blame Robert Mander for the financial collapse of CO Capital Growth. Still, in December, a judge put all the Sparaglias’ assets into receivership, which included their $2.9 million home.

It’s never a good idea to invest money with family or friends, but if you do invest, you should be aware of the possibility of losing your money.

Have you ever been approached to invest in something offering a crazy rate of return on your investment? Do you think you could be duped into investing in a Ponzi scheme?

For a full report on the Sbaraglias’ story, visit the Star.

Orthodontic Braces: Taxpayers Spent $424 Million for Children in Texas

Orthodontic Braces: Taxpayers Spent $424 Million for Children in TexasIn June of this year, The Wealthy Dentist published a story about Taxpayers footing the bill for orthodontic braces in Texas.

In Texas, Medicaid pays dentists for orthodontics per procedure, instead of a lump sum for the “finished mouth” of straight teeth.

This has made Medicaid orthodontia a lucrative dental business in Texas.

WFAA-TV of Texas has been investigating this story for the last six months and has uncovered hundreds of millions of dollars of questionable Medicaid spending on dental braces for children in Texas. Their news reports prompted federal investigators to now audit the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which controls the Medicaid funds.

According to the WFAA website –

In a letter to the state, the Inspector General says it will examine the “authorization process for orthodontic treatment” under Texas Medicaid. “The objective of our audit,” the letter continues, “is to review the State’s controls to ensure that only medically necessary orthodontic cases are paid.” The time period covered by the audit is September 1, 2008 through May 28, 2011.

The new station’s investigation revealed that during that period, Texas taxpayers spent $424 million on orthodontic braces for children under Medicaid. Taxpayers spent $100 million in 2008, $140 million in 2009, and $184 million in 2010, state records show.

Texas dentist, Dr. Christine Ellis, who teaches at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has twice traveled to Washington in an attempt to convince lawmakers to scale back Texas Medicaid orthodontics payments and divert funds for more pressing dental needs.

Her attempts fell on deaf ears. According to the WFAA-TV article, Ellis said, “There’s no response. No one is putting the brakes on this thing.”

Billy Millwee of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is now telling WFAA-TV that if taxpayers money has been lost, the Attorney General might take action to get it back. He went on to say that Texas will have a new managed care Medicaid dental program beginning next spring.

For more on this story see: Feds Investigate Texas Dental Medicaid Program and Taxpayers Footing the Bill for Braces in Texas.

Dental Office Embezzlement of $100,000 in Dental Insurance Payments

Dental Office Embezzlement of $100,000 in Dental Insurance PaymentsDental office embezzlement is still alive and well in California.

Deborah Lynn Kessler, 45, pleaded guilty to four counts of grand theft over charges that she embezzled more than $100,000 in dental insurance payments at the dental practice where where was manager.

The Orange County Register reports that Kessler signed dental insurance payments over to her personal bank accounts over the course of about three years. Investigators initially said she may have used the money to pay for an RV, boats and trips, and to cover her personal bills.

She was sentenced to two years in jail, plus an additional two more years of community supervision.

According to a 2010 Association of Certified Fraud Examiners report almost one-fourth of all embezzlement cases report losses of at least $1 million with smaller businesses being the most susceptible to fraud.

The average embezzlement scheme lasts for 18 months before detection.

The U.S Chamber of Commerce estimates that employee embezzlement costs American companies $20 billion to $40 billion a year. A long-term employee is 15 times more likely than a stranger to steal from a company.

Some of the best ways to prevent dental office embezzlement is by implementing a segregation of duties, keeping petty cash to a minimum and requiring dual signatures on checks.

Has your dental practice ever been the victim of employee embezzlement? What happened, and how did you handle it?

For more on the Orange County Register story see: Dental worker guilty of stealing more than $100,000

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