Benta Fries image via fresnoarts.net
Written by The Business Journal Staff
A local businesswoman has been charged with 67 counts of insurance fraud for overbilling the insurance companies of breast cancer patients.
Benta Jean Fries, 49, of Clovis, is accused of a four-year scheme to overbill insurance companies as part of her business, Silhouette Breast Prosthetics. The overbilled amount was about $270,415, but potential loses could reach more than $1.2 million, according to a news release from the Fresno County District Attorney.
A two-year joint investigation by the district attorney and the California Department of Insurance alleges that between Oct. 1, 2014 and April 10, 2018, Fries charged area cancer patients’ insurance for products they never received, or for more expensive products than those they purchased.
Blue Shield of California initiated an investigation that was then forwarded to the California Department of Insurance.
Silhouette Breast Prosthetics specializes in prosthesis, bras, swimwear and apparel for women who have undergone mastectomies as part of treatment for breast cancer. The business was founded in 1991, according to records with the Better Business Bureau. At one point it had locations in Fresno and Visalia.
The business website, silhouettebreastforms.com, is not currently operating, but an archived version stated that “Insurance companies usually allow a woman that has had a mastectomy a prosthesis every one to two years and four to six bras annually.”
Fries was arrested today and is expected to appear in court for an arraignment Dec. 17 at 8:30 a.m.
If convicted, Fries faces a potential sentence of up to 73 years in prison, a fine and restitution, according to the news release. However, upon reaching age 60 and after serving 25 years, Fries would be eligible for release under the Elderly Parole Program.