| SACRAMENTO, Calif.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. Nov 14 Authorities in
California shut down 10 fake Obamacare websites, amid nationwide
concern among law enforcement officials about potential fraud
during the program's rollout, the state's attorney general said
The sites, which mimicked the official "Covered California"
affordable health insurance website, were removed from the
internet in an effort to stop fraud connected to the rollout,
said a spokesman for California Attorney General Kamala Harris,
who ordered the sites to close after a month-long investigation.
"These websites fraudulently imitated Covered California in
order to lure consumers away from plans that provide the
benefits of the Affordable Care Act," Harris said in a
statement. "My office will continue to investigate and shut down
these kinds of sites."
The extent of fraud related to the Affordable Care Act is
not yet clear. But Harris' spokesman, Nicholas Pacilio, said
that attorneys general from several states have been
participating in regular conference calls on the subject.
In September, Better Business Bureaus nationwide warned that
fraudulent telemarketers were calling consumers pretending to
offer information about the Affordable Care Act in an effort to
obtain personal information for identity theft.
In the California case, the websites used names meant to
evoke the state's own insurance exchange, such as
"Californiahealthbenefitexchange.com," Harris said.
Consumers who used internet search programs such as Google
to find the Covered California site were presented with ads for
the fake sites instead, some of them using the exchange's logo
and using its name.
But instead of directing users to the site of the state's
insurance exchange, where they could purchase policies approved
under the new law and possibly qualify for a federal subsidy,
the ads took consumers to the websites of private insurance
companies and brokers.
Harris warned consumers who wish to sign up to go directly
to the state's site, which is www.coveredca.com. She
said policies offered outside the exchanges may not have the
consumer protections required by the Affordable Care Act and may
not be eligible for subsidies.
Harris did not disclose the names of the businesses
involved, other than to list the now-shut website names.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and