FBI agent: Beware health-care fraud

Thomas Lynn | The Valdosta Daily TimesFormer Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent Victor Hartman gives a presentation on health-care fraud at Valdosta State University Tuesday.

VALDOSTA — Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent Victor Hartman warned participants to beware health-care fraud.

The Valdosta State University presentation earlier this week was in recognition of International Fraud Awareness Week, Nov. 12-18, a global effort to minimize the impact of fraud by promoting anti-fraud awareness and education.

Hartman, founder of The Hartman Firm, an Atlanta-based corporation specializing in internal investigations, forensic accounting and fraud mitigation consulting, was the featured guest speaker.

Hartman graduated from VSU with a degree in accounting and went to Emory University Law School. He is an experienced attorney, certified public accountant and former FBI special agent.

During his years with the FBI, Hartman played a leadership role in the initial investigative phases of both the Enron and WorldCom scandals, the release states. He also served as an acting legal attaché in the United States Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, where he focused his efforts on money-laundering crimes.

International Fraud Awareness Week activities reflect VSU’s ongoing commitment to promoting an ethical culture on campus.

During his presentation, Hartman said most fraud cases aren't about greed. He said going into an interview with a suspect and assuming they are greedy doesn't create a good relationship. For an FBI agent, interviewing is the most important part and building a rapport is crucial, he said.

"Of all the skills and the techniques that the FBI utilizes, if you can sit in front of somebody and get them to say something against their interest, that is the most important skill as an FBI agent," Hartman said.

During his presentation, Hartman gave many examples from his time as an agent where he had to win over criminals and sociopaths. On the Enron case, he was alerted by the secretary that her boss might be involved. He said that many times breaking these cases come down to someone coming forward and saying something.

As far as health-care fraud, Hartman said it is the most pervasive fraud impacting the United States. He said the reason comes down to a lack of interest. When something is paid for by insurance, people don't care how much the product costs.

"It all costs us, but we don't see it, and that's health care in a nut shell," Hartman said.

He said the students who are at VSU today are at the forefront of stopping health-care fraud. He hoped his presentation energized and motivated them to make a difference.

"I'm very proud to come back to my home town, to my alma mater," Hartman said. "I hope I could shed some light on them and make a difference."

Thomas Lynn is a government and education reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be reached at (229)244-3400 ext. 1256

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