A dentist has been sentenced to 20 months’ imprisonment and suspended for two years, for defrauding the NHS out of £74,000 following an investigation by the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA).
The investigation began after a call to the NHSCFA’s Fraud and Corruption Reporting Line, reporting that Dr Sheena Lalani was only attending her London surgery two days a week but advertising dental services five days a week.
Dr Lalani held contracts with the NHS to provide dental services from both her London and Surrey practices.
According to the findings of the investigation, she fabricated and backdated claims to increase how much she was paid. Initially claiming that the overpayments were due to poor administrative practices, Dr Lalani eventually pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position.
Her guilty plea was prompted by the weight of evidence gathered by investigators, who found, amongst other things, that she had altered dates on record cards, treatment plans and other documents and had claimed for treating patients who, when interviewed, denied receiving the treatments.
She paid back the money shortly before sentencing when the NHSCFA was about to start a confiscation investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002.
Commenting on the case, Helen Gregory, Forensic Director at Milsted Langdon said: “Many people wrongly assume a forensic accounting investigation will focus purely on financial transactions. However, much relies on witness statements – in this case, of patients – and other paperwork that either proves or refutes what the defendant is claiming.
“For example, in this case, Dr Lalani had claimed for numerous dental devices, but when questioned, the dental laboratories had no evidence of such orders.
“By carefully piecing together a patchwork of evidence, forensic accountants can deliver independent findings before the courts to help secure a conviction, or assist with the defence of a case for a client.”