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Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, speaks about opioid addiction during a news conference, Thursday, July 13, 2017, at the Justice Department in Washington. (AP) Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, speaks about opioid addiction during a news conference, Thursday, July 13, 2017, at the Justice Department in Washington. (AP)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, speaks about opioid addiction during a news conference, Thursday, July 13, 2017, at the Justice Department in Washington. (AP)

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman November 21, 2017

Misleading headline says 412 Michigan Muslims busted

Hundreds of Muslim doctors in Detroit were arrested by the federal government in a record-breaking bust, stated an article on Facebook.

"The largest bust in U.S. history: 412 Muslims arrested from Michigan," stated a headline we saw in November on Fresh Media News.

Facebook users flagged the post as being potentially fabricated, as part of the social network’s efforts to combat fake news. While the headline is fake, because it describes all of the suspects as Muslims from Michigan without evidence, a key element of the story is based on real events: The federal government did charge 412 people nationwide in a health care bust in July.

Fresh Media News calls itself a website that provides "daily updates of the hidden things." We found no disclaimer or contact information on the website and sent a message via Facebook and did not get a reply. Similar articles ran on other websites in July.

The article portrays Michigan Muslims as rampant criminals.

"The state of Michigan is clearly turning into a Sharia swamp, thanks to the reckless immigration policies of Obama over the last 8 years," stated the article.

Fresh Media News claims that federal officials made a bust in a $1.3 billion fraudulent scheme involving Medicare fraud, ripping off insurance companies and prescribing opioids.

Some of the basic details are muddled -- the headline says the 412 suspects were from Michigan while part of the article says officials arrested 412 people nationwide.

Here is what actually happened: On July 13, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the "largest health care fraud takedown operation in American history."

Federal authorities charged 412 defendants across about two dozen states, including doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in health care fraud schemes involving approximately $1.3 billion in false billings. Thirty-two of the defendants were from the Eastern District of Michigan.

Featured Fact-check

Fresh Media News cited some accurate details in the case, including that the FBI raided medical offices in Detroit’s historic Fisher building and named one of the actual Michigan defendants: Mashiyat Rashid.

Prosecutors allege that Rashid ran a conspiracy starting in 2008 that involved six other defendants and various companies in which they recruited homeless people as patients and sent phony bills to Medicare, according to The Detroit News.

The Detroit News described Rashid as a "Muslim businessman, who moved to the United States from Bangladesh and is a U.S. citizen."

While Fresh Media News wrote without evidence that the 412 suspects were Muslims, nothing in the federal documents we reviewed, including Sessions’ remarks, mentioned the religion of the defendant. We contacted Sessions’ press office and did not get a reply.

It’s not surprising that a fake news story would target Muslims in Michigan.

The Muslim population has been growing in Michigan for decades and is now about 2.75 percent of the state’s population as of 2015, according to a report by Muslims for American Progress, a project by the Institute for Policy Studies and Social Understanding that aims to educate the public about Muslims. (A Pew study estimates that Muslims comprise about 1 percent of the U.S.)

Michigan Muslims comprise more than 15 percent of the state’s medical doctors and more than 10 percent of the state’s pharmacists.

Our ruling

Fresh Media News wrote in a headline " ‘The largest bust in U.S. history’ 412 Muslims arrested in Michigan!"

The federal government announced the bust of 412 people in a health care fraud scheme in July, but the suspects were from across the nation. We found no evidence that all the suspects are Muslims.

We rate this claim False.

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"‘The largest bust in U.S. history’ 412 Muslims arrested from Michigan!"
In a blog post
Monday, November 6, 2017

Our Sources

Freshmedianews, "‘The largest bust in U.S. history’: 412 Muslims arrested in Michigan!"

Freedomdaily.com, "412 Michigan Muslims Arrested In Fed’s ‘LARGEST BUST IN U.S. HISTORY’ After Uncovering Deadly Hidden Secret," July 17, 2017

U.S. Department of Justice press release, "National Health Care Fraud Takedown Results in Charges Against Over 412 Individuals Responsible for $1.3 Billion in Fraud Losses," July 13, 2017

U.S. Department of Justice, Documents in the National Health Care Fraud Takedown, July 13, 2017

Pew Research Center,  "A new estimate of the U.S. Muslim population," Jan. 6, 2016

Muslims for American Progress, a project by the Institute for Policy Studies and Social Understanding, "An impact report of Muslim’ contributions to Michigan,"  May 2017

AP, "US charging 412 in health fraud schemes worth $1.3 billion," July 13, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Remarks at press conference announcing health care fraud takedown, July 13, 2017

The Detroit News, "7 charged in $132M scheme," July 13, 2017

The Detroit News, "Accused fraudster's bond revoked," Oct. 21, 2017

The Detroit News, "FBI used spy gadget to hunt fraud suspect," July 27, 2017

Washington Post, "In the first majority-Muslim U.S. city, residents tense about its future," Nov. 21, 2015

Detroit Free Press, "In city known for diversity, campaign grows heated; Challenger hopes to break string of Polish-American mayors," (Accessed in Nexis) Nov. 5, 2017

Interview, Gina Balaya, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney Eastern District of Michigan, Nov. 21, 2017

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Misleading headline says 412 Michigan Muslims busted

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