U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert has announced the launch of a task force to investigate health care fraud in the Virgin Islands.

“Federal and territorial officials and law enforcement officers convened last week to take the fight against health care fraud to the next level,” according to a news release from Shappert’s office. “The first meeting of the Virgin Islands Health Care Fraud Task Force was conducted on a viral platform, thereby permitting the participants to share information and develop strategies for the territory.”

“We all share the same concerns about the devastating effects of health care fraud,” Shappert said. “We are committed to protecting potential victims, safeguarding taxpayer dollars, and ensuring the integrity of our health care system.”

The task force comprises representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the FBI, and Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. Virgin Islands’ representatives include Julita de Leon, coordinator of the V.I. Medicaid Fraud Control Unit; Gary Smith, director of the V.I. Medicaid Program, and Aimee Griles, Senior Medicare Patrol Project director, according to the news release. The V.I. Medicaid Program received federal funds in the amount of $126 million fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The 2020 COVID-19 Families First legislation provided the Virgin Islands with additional federal funds totaling $2.9 million for fiscal year 2020 and $1.9 million for 2021.

“With these increased levels of funding in the territory, the task force is an important step in our efforts to increase our collaboration with the Virgin Islands Justice Department, health care agencies, and law enforcement partners,” Shappert said in the statement. “The fight against criminal and civil health care fraud is a top priority for my office, and the task force strengthens our capacity to fight health care fraud through a collaborative approach.”

To report suspected health care fraud, please contact: HHS-OIG at 1-800-447-8477; NYCOIFOSanJuan@oig.hhs.gov, the FBI: 340-777-3363; tips.fbi.gov.

- Contact Suzanne Carlson at 340-714-9122 or email scarlson@dailynews.vi.