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Scoundrel Spotlight: HIV Medication Black-Market Fraudster Boris Aminov

Posted  April 18, 2024

This week’s Scoundrel in the Spotlight is Boris Aminov.  Yesterday (April 17), the Department of Justice announced Aminov was sentenced to nine years in prison “for engaging in a years-long scheme that exploited vulnerable HIV patients and defrauded Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance companies out of at least $20 million.”  In addition to the prison term, Aminov also was ordered to pay roughly $13 in restitution and $4.4 million in forfeiture.

According to the facts laid out in the federal indictment and in court statements, Aminov distributed black-market HIV medications to pharmacies owned and operated by Aminov’s co-conspirators, which then dispensed the medications to unknowing patients who believed they were receiving legitimate medication.  To further conceal the black-market scheme, the co-conspirators used bank accounts associated with their respective pharmacies to funnel money to shell companies controlled by Aminov.

The scheme also involved: paying kickbacks to patients to recruit them to the participating pharmacies; paying patients to forego the medications they were prescribed and sell them back to the pharmacies; selling black-market HIV drugs to other pharmacies that believed they were receiving legitimately sourced medication; and making the bottles of diverted medication look new and in proper condition.

According to the government, by selling diverted HIV medication from black-market sources instead of through legitimate distributors, the participating pharmacies could not assure the quality or condition of the medication they provided to their patients, thereby creating a risk that patients would receive counterfeit, expired, or improperly dosed medication.  They also jeopardized the health and safety of the patients they induced to sell back their much-needed medication.

In announcing the prison sentence, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams highlighted the serious nature of Aminov’s misbehavior warranting his hefty sentence and fines:

Boris Aminov orchestrated a scheme to get rich by lying to Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance companies and by depriving vulnerable HIV patients of legitimate and safe medications.  He also made millions of dollars through buying and distributing black-market HIV medications to pharmacies all over New York City.  Today’s sentencing brings a measure of closure with Aminov now facing the obligation to pay over 13 million in restitution.

The False Claims Act is the government’s primary tool for going after those who defraud the government, like Aminov and his co-conspirators did here.  One of the unique features of the False Claims Act is permitting private individuals to file civil lawsuits on the government’s behalf and in return receive up to 30 percent of any government recovery.  It is not clear whether a whistleblower was involved in exposing Aminov or if the government uncovered the scheme on its own.  But generally, whistleblowers are responsible for initiating the vast majority of False Claims Act cases, especially when it comes to healthcare fraud.

If you think might have information relating to possible healthcare fraud and would like to speak to an experienced member of the Constantine Cannon whistleblower lawyer team, please feel free to contact us for a free and confidential consult.