April 22, 2024

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Massive nursing degree scheme leads to hunt for 2,800 fraudulent nurses

Massive nursing degree scheme leads to hunt for 2,800 fraudulent nurses
A critical care nurse assists a patient.
Enlarge / A crucial care nurse helps a client.

Extra than 2,800 folks may be functioning as nurses under phony pretenses just after allegedly acquiring a bogus diploma for amongst $10,000 and $15,000 from a huge Florida-primarily based scheme lately busted by federal investigators. State and federal authorities are now operating to keep track of down the alleged fraudulent nurses, and in some conditions, quickly annulling their licenses.

Final 7 days, the Division of Justice introduced costs versus 25 men and women in five states linked to the alleged plan. The investigation, code-named Operation Nightingale, observed evidence that the 25 defendants labored to provide far more than 7,600 fake diplomas, alongside with transcripts, concerning 2016 and 2021, making in excess of $100 million in the course of action. The fraudulent diplomas and transcripts were being allegedly issued from three accredited Florida-centered nursing universities: Siena School and Sacred Heart Global Institute in Broward County and Palm Beach front University of Nursing in Palm Beach County.

The three colleges are now closed, and the 25 defendants each and every experience up to 20 many years in prison.

“Well being care fraud is absolutely nothing new to South Florida, as many scammers see this as a way to generate quick, even though illegal, dollars,” acting Distinctive Agent in Cost Chad Yarbrough, FBI Miami, mentioned in a statement. “What is disturbing about this investigation is that there are more than 7,600 individuals all around the nation with fraudulent nursing credentials who are possibly in crucial overall health treatment roles treating patients.”

With a faux diploma and transcript, an unscrupulous aspiring nurse can qualify to just take the national nursing board exam. And if they pass the exam, they can grow to be licensed nurses and get a career in a health treatment placing. Federal authorities claimed that of the 7,600 folks with the alleged faux diplomas, all-around 37 percent—more than 2,800 people—passed the test. Several went on to get careers as licensed nurses.

“Deplorable”

Now, authorities are making an attempt to monitor down people nurses. Court paperwork indicated that some of the questionable nurses have been used at Veterans Affairs hospitals in Maryland and New York, a clinic in Georgia, and a qualified nursing facility in Ohio, among the other areas.

Late last week, the Delaware Point out Board of Nursing annulled the licenses of 26 people today working as nurses following getting allegedly pretend degrees. “All of us truly feel this is egregious,” Pamela Zickafoose, the executive director of Delaware’s Board of Nursing, advised a nearby ABC News affiliate.

On Monday, reporters in Georgia documented that there are 22 people operating as nurses in the state with allegedly phony diplomas. The Ga Board of Nursing sent letters to the 22 persons on January 17 requesting that they voluntarily surrender their licenses inside 30 days. As of January 30, none experienced finished so.

Also on Monday, Washington state’s Nursing Treatment Excellent Assurance Commission introduced it had discovered 150 nursing applicants employing qualifications from the alleged plan. In accordance to KING5 in Seattle, of the 150 men and women, 7 have had their licenses rescinded, four candidates had been denied, 62 are in authorized limbo, and the remaining 77 are less than investigation.

In a statement, American Nurses Association President Jennifer Mensik Kennedy termed the alleged scheme “particularly unsettling” and people involved “deplorable.”

“This undermines every thing the nursing career signifies and stands for and is in immediate opposition to the Code of Ethics for Nurses,” she ongoing. “Furthermore, these unlawful and unethical functions disparage the reputation of genuine nurses just about everywhere … We assistance the investigation and the judicial course of action to make certain people today identified to have been involved in this scheme are held accountable.”