NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Nashville man has been accused of duping dozens of cancer patients, financial institutions and investors out of nearly $700,000 in a Ponzi scheme.
The U.S. Department of Justice said 75-year-old Howard Young, who founded Nashville-based holistic wellness business Integrative Medical Services, allegedly solicited cancer patients and other patients with chronic medical conditions to participate in a study. He told participants, investors and employees he received a $2 million grant from Vanderbilt University for the study because he cured himself of cancer using naturopathic methods.
Young does not hold a medical doctorate and did not have a medical license, nor did Vanderbilt University award him or his company any grants, the justice department said.
Participants were promised to receive nutritional supplements, blood testing, nutrition and exercise coaching, a gym membership, massages and acupuncture. However, patients did not routinely receive these services, according to the justice department.
In order to participate in the study, Young told patients they must pay Vanderbilt an up-front fee of $10,000, adding that the money would be returned to them at the end of one year. Those who could not afford it were required to secure a CareCredit card or open a Health Credit Savings account.
Young allegedly told patients he would hold the funds in escrow and would make all monthly payments to the account and pay off all existing balances and the end of one year, so long as the patient abided by all study protocols.
An investigation by the FBI found that IMS generated very little revenue. The majority of the funds he deposited were from CareCredit accounts and HCS loan accounts.
The justice department said by July 2019, Young had received about $669,470 in total from CareCredit and HCS.
Young allegedly changed the mailing addresses for patients’ accounts at CareCredit and HCS so that the monthly statements went to a post office box he controlled. He’s accused of withdrawing a portion of the funds for his own personal use, as well as, making payments to his personal credit cards and minimum payments on account holders’ credit cards and loan accounts.
Young has been charged with four counts of bank fraud, six counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. He faces 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.