THIEF RIVER FALLS-Federal prosecutors have accused a Thief River Falls chiropractor of defrauding more than $1 million from insurance companies.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota announced Wednesday it would prosecute Steven Richard Wiseth, 35, on six counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. The owner of Health Quest Family Chiropractic allegedly scammed health insurers, according to a news release.
It is estimated Wiseth billed insurance companies more than $3.1 million in the two-year scheme, including for "hundreds of treatments that were not provided or were overbilled," the release said. Prosecutors said he received more than $1.1 million from insurance companies because of the scheme.
The scheme was dependent on "maximum patient volume," prosecutors said in a statement. He used promotional events in which he gave away free food, drinks, prizes and gift certificates, according to the allegations. He then billed insurance companies for providing chiropractic services to those who attended the events.
"In some cases, Wiseth used the personal and insurance information of attendees to bill the individuals' insurance companies for services that were not provided, unbeknownst to the attendee," the statement said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office described "ValenSpine's Day," an event Wiseth held Feb. 13, 2014, in which he allegedly provided 641 services to 219 patients, according to the release.
Wiseth also submitted false bills and misrepresented services that were provided to patients, according to the allegations.
"For example, Wiseth routinely submitted false bills for treatment with a 'wobble chair,' which is a device intended to develop core strength," the U.S. Attorney's Office said. "Wiseth falsely represented to insurers that the services were performed for at least eight minutes under the direct supervision of a healthcare professional when, in fact, Wiseth merely stocked his clinics' waiting rooms with wobble chairs so that patients would sit in them while waiting for their appointments."
The fraud and identity theft allegedly happened between March 2013 through April 2015, the release said. Wiseth appeared Monday in U.S. District Court in St. Paul and has surrendered his Minnesota chiropractic license, according to a news release from the Minnesota Commerce Department.
Wiseth founded Health Quest in the early 2010s before announcing in 2014 he would expand his business into Grand Forks. He opened his Grand Forks office at 2860 10th Ave. N. St.
The news release doesn't mention Grand Forks, and it's unclear if other Health Quest employees have been indicted in the case.