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Medical Identify theft delays cancer treatment for Brevard County woman

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Months after a devastating cancer diagnosis, a local woman hasn’t had a single treatment, all because of a scam that targets the poorest in our community.

The woman learned someone took out an insurance policy in her name, and that has prevented her from getting treatment.

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Vinisha Moeykens cannot afford insurance. She used to have a legitimate policy but canceled it because she couldn’t afford the copays.

The free clinic which helped diagnose her with cancer, Space Coast Volunteers in Medicine in Brevard County, has a partnership with one of the best cancer hospitals in the country. When they tried to get her in through the indigent care program, officials discovered someone had used her social security number to enroll in a policy likely to get a commission on the sale.

This has cost Moeykens precious time, to the tune of months.

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“I have it, and we haven’t been able to take it any further,” Moeykens said about her lung cancer diagnosis. “It’s there, and we don’t know any more. We don’t know if it’s anywhere else. We don’t know.”

The nonprofit, volunteer-led clinic isn’t equipped for answering those questions, so Director Laurie Stoeckert made a call on Moeykens’ behalf.

“It was after that, that we realized that her needs were beyond what our primary health care clinic could do,” Stoeckert said. “So our next option was to call Moffitt and see if we could get her in through their financial assistance program.”

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Since Moeykens didn’t have insurance, she should have qualified, except one major problem; someone had stolen Moeykens’ identity to take out an insurance policy, sending the bill to a fake South Florida address, and paying the $943 monthly premium with a tax credit.

“The policy was written for her, on her behalf, using different financial income records, that were not hers,” Stoeckert said. “The agent who wrote the policy is on commission. So, it’s a win for them.”

There were 43,000 cases of medical ID theft reported in 2021: a fraction of the 15-million cases of identity theft in the United States every year.

In cases like this, victims may never know. Moeykens’ income is below the threshold to even file taxes, which is where the tax credit used to pay the premiums would have been discovered.

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“I don’t know how you sleep at night. I don’t know how you justify a bonus check, at the cost of someone’s life,” Stoeckert said. “I don’t understand that at all. I’m not made that way.”

Though the fraudulent policy cost Moeykens nothing in monthly premiums, in other ways, it has cost her everything.

“It’s really scary, because, you know, the early diagnosis is the key,” Moeykens said.

Stoeckert filed a fraud report on her patient’s behalf and was just able to get the fraudulent policy canceled. Now, they’ll work to expedite the process to get her in to Moffitt for treatment.

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Karla Ray

Karla Ray, WFTV.com

Karla Ray anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on Saturday and Sundays, and is an investigative reporter for the 9 Investigates unit.