Hagens Berman Blog

Whistleblower News: Bankrate, Citi, Medicare

by HB Whistleblower Legal Team

07/02/2018

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What 7 Creepy Patents Reveal About Facebook

Facebook has filed thousands of patent applications since it went public in 2012. One of them describes using forward-facing cameras to analyze your expressions and detect whether you’re bored or surprised by what you see on your feed. Another contemplates using your phone’s microphone to determine which TV show you’re watching. Others imagine systems to guess whether you’re getting married soon, predict your socioeconomic status and track how much you’re sleeping.

A review of hundreds of Facebook’s patent applications reveals that the company has considered tracking almost every aspect of its users’ lives: where you are, who you spend time with, whether you’re in a romantic relationship, which brands and politicians you’re talking about. The company has even attempted to patent a method for predicting when your friends will die. read more »

Another Equifax Employee Faces Charge of Insider Trading After Big Breach

Regulators charged a second former Equifax employee with insider trading, accusing him on Thursday of placing a financial bet that the stock would decline after learning about the company’s huge data breach but before it was publicly disclosed.

The former employee, Sudhakar Reddy Bonthu, a software engineering manager, traded on the information he received while creating a website for consumers affected by the attack, according to a complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in federal court in Atlanta. Mr. Bonthu, 44, was told that the project was being done for an unnamed client but figured out that Equifax itself was the victim, according to the complaint. read more »

Medicare spent $2 billion for one drug as the manufacturer paid doctors millions

More than 80% of doctors who filed Medicare claims in 2016 for H.P. Acthar Gel -- a drug best known for treating a rare infant seizure disorder -- received money or other perks from the drugmakers, according to a CNN analysis of publicly identified prescribers.

The analysis, which looked at doctors who filed more than 10 Part D claims, found that the drugmakers -- Mallinckrodt and Questcor -- paid 288 prescribers more than $6.5 million for consulting, promotional speaking and other Acthar-related services between 2013 and 2016. Mallinckrodt purchased Questcor in 2014.

At about the same time, Medicare spending on Acthar rose dramatically -- more than tenfold over six years.

Medicare spent nearly $2 billion on Acthar from 2011-2016, according to the agency's data -- even though some doctors say an equally effective treatment would have cost a tiny fraction of that amount. Medicare spending on Acthar from 2013-2016 accounted for nearly $1.8 billion read more »

Citi to repay $335 million to credit card customers over APR rate violations, CFPB says

Citigroup has agreed to return $335 million in refunds to credit card customers that paid more than they should have in interest due to the bank's failure to properly lower their annual percentage rate after periodic account reviews required by law, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Friday.

The settlement comes four months after the bank, in a February regulatory filing, publicly disclosed that it had not properly lowered rates on those credit card accounts as part of its APR rate re-evaluations.

Since 2011, banks have been required by law to review credit card accounts every six months and assess whether factors that prompted a rate increase had changed, and if account holders were eligible for a lower rate, better known as an APR.

Citi, according to the CFPB, was at fault for “failing to re-evaluate and reduce the annual percentage rates” for an estimated 1.75 million consumer accounts under the new rules. The CFPB estimates that cardholders paid in excess of $335 million more in interest than what should have been imposed. read more »

Bankrate ex-CFO pleads guilty in U.S. to accounting fraud scheme

The former chief financial officer of Bankrate Inc pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges stemming from his role in an accounting fraud scheme that cost investors more than $25 million, prosecutors said.

Edward DiMaria, 53, pleaded guilty in federal court in Miami to two counts, including conspiring to make false statements to accountants, falsify books and records and commit securities fraud, the U.S. Justice Department said. read more »