from the YEAH-BUT-WE'RE-THE-ONLY-GAME-IN-TOWN dept
Yeah, it’s real easy to sit back and second guess the hard work of law enforcement officers. Secure and safe in our warm homes, far away from the mean streets and thin blue line separating us from the criminal apocalypse, we have it easy. As one of the NYPD’s unions pointed out, citizens like us are clueless. We’ve (and I’m directly quoting here) “grown up on the nipple of what’s easy.” We “have no clue what a NYPD officer does,” and yet we criticize and disparage them.
Then one day — after years of criticism and disparagement and [re-reads tweet] nipples — we’ll find we need them. “Evil will be at our door,” as the NYC PBA says. When that happens, we cop-haters will call for help. We will finally recognize we need them. After all, when all hell breaks loose, who else is going to respond to our calls for help and… um… sell our personal info to insurance scam artists?
Six current and former NYPD employees, which included one cop and five 911 operators, were arrested by the feds as authorities smashed a massive $18 million New York insurance fraud operation, the Daily News learned Thursday.
Police Officer Yaniris Deleon was taken into custody in Manhattan while on duty Wednesday after federal agents surrounded her with assault weapons drawn, sources with knowledge of the case said.
Deleon, five 911 operators and a supervising 911 operator allegedly provided the medical insurance scammers with names, phone numbers and confidential information about car accident victims. The runners then reached out to the victims and steered them toward clinics that would bill medical insurance companies for treatments and procedures they didn’t need.
This is fantastic news for first responders and New York’s Finest. Not so much because it makes some “bad apples™” look bad, but because it shows them there’s a faster route to extra cash than timecard abuse.
If you give people in power access to a lot of personal info, they will abuse this access eventually. It’s not an “if.” It’s a “when.” Not everyone will abuse this access as much as these government employees did, but a wealth of personal data just a couple of clicks away is a very tempting target. Especially when it can significantly boost the income of the underappreciated heroes keeping the city safe.
According to this report, these employees made about $4,000 a month from feeding personal info to scam artists. It also says operators were promised about $24-30,000 “off the books” for continued supply of contact info, so it’s unclear how much any of the arrested employees actually made assisting scammers. However, this selling of personal data allegedly dates back to 2014.
But the officer and 911 operators were only making pennies on the dollar. The middle men were making themselves millionaires.
The scammers received about $3,000 a referral to attorneys and shady doctors, according to court papers. The group made about 6,000 successful referrals over the last five years, netting about $18 million, officials said.
The names, addresses and contact numbers for about 60,000 car accident victims were steered to the scam artists over the last five years, officials said.
Oh my. This is going to lead to a whole lot of litigation. Government employees misusing their power and access to serve up citizens to scam artists is the sort of abuse that can’t be handled solely through prosecution. The government may go after the involved employees and everyone on the non-government side who benefited from this arrangement, but plenty of residents are going to be legitimately pissed that the government they were told to trust sent them off to undergo unnecessary medical procedures.
Maybe this set of prosecutions will act as a deterrent. Or maybe it will just be seen as the exception to the rule, and abuse of access will continue at its normal pace. Whatever the result, at least more citizens will be aware how much damage the government can do with all the information it demands we relinquish in exchange for government goods and services.
And they’ll see how much of this “thin blue line” crap is self-righteous bullshit. The blue line doesn’t stand between civilians and evil. It stands between cops and accountability. Because if anyone took accountability seriously, this sort of thing would be far rarer than it is. It only becomes common when few people are worried about the potential downsides of abusing their positions. And when it’s common practice, that’s when people start getting caught.