NASHVILLE, – Howard L. Young, 75, the founder of a holistic wellness company based in Nashville, was sentenced to eight years in prison by District Judge William L. Campbell Jr. on Friday, said acting US Attorney Mary Jane Stewart known for the Middle District of Tennessee. Judge Campbell also ordered Young pay $ 693,128.66 in compensation for running a Ponzi program in which he defrauded over 80 patients, financial institutions and investors of nearly $ 700,000.
Young was charged four bank fraud charges in a criminal complaint in October 2020; six cases of transfer fraud; and gross identity theft. He pleaded guilty in December.
The loading documents allege, and Young acknowledged, that Young founded Integrative Medical Services (IMS), a supposedly holistic wellness company, in 2015. Young also held for a doctorate in naturopathy, but had no doctorate and no license to practice medicine.
Back in 2017, Young began soliciting cancer patients, investors, and employees, telling them that he had received a $ 2 million grant from Vanderbilt University to screen cancer patients and other patients with chronic diseases. Young claimed he received the scholarship because he used naturopathic methods to cure himself of cancer. Young also promised that the “study” would provide patients with nutritional supplements, blood tests, nutritional and exercise coaching, gym memberships, massage and acupuncture. For his plan, Young targeted about 80 vulnerable victims, many of whom had been diagnosed with cancer or other debilitating diseases.
In order to participate in the “study,” Young told patients that Vanderbilt required an upfront payment of $ 10,000, but that the funds would be returned to them after a year. When patients couldn’t afford the prepayment, they had to secure a CareCredit credit card or open a Health Credit Services account. Each of these products is designed to help patients pay for medical treatments and works like a revolving line of credit or unsecured installment loan, requiring the patient to pay monthly installments. Young promised patients to hold the original withdrawals in trust and make all monthly payments and to pay off any outstanding balances after a year, as long as the patient continues to adhere to all study protocols.
In fact, Vanderbilt had not given any scholarships to Young or IMS. Young’s allegations that IMS received a Vanderbilt grant were false and aimed at tricking patients into applying for and obtaining credit and loan accounts with Synchrony Bank, MetaBank and Cross River Bank; to induce investors to give him funds for his fraudulent intent; and get staff to help him attract additional patients to join his fraudulent program. Young even convinced a victim to give him the title of home to take part in the “trial.”
Young did not keep the money in escrow as promised and withdrew some of the money for his personal use, made payments on his personal credit cards, and made minimum payments to credit accounts and loan accounts of the account holders. The patients did not receive the nutritional supplements promised by Young routinely, nor did they receive nutritional and exercise coaching, gym memberships, massages or acupuncture as promised. To further disguise his plan, Young also changed the mailing addresses of patient accounts at CareCredit and HCS so that the monthly statements went to a mailbox he controlled. Young made minimum payments on CareCredit and HCS accounts to hide the fraud and keep his program up and running so he could attract additional patients to participate in the fictitious fellowship study.
IMS generated little, if any, sales. The vast majority of the funds that flowed into the IMS were deposits from the CareCredit credit accounts and the HCS credit accounts. As of July 2019, Young had received a total of approximately $ 669,470 from CareCredit and HCS.
This case has been investigated by the FBI. U.S. Assistant Attorney Kathryn W. Booth is pursuing the case.
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