October 28, 2005

Over 1,000 Exxon workers got bogus flu shots -US

HOUSTON (Reuters) - More than 1,000 employees of the
largest U.S. refinery were the victims of a scheme by a Houston
man to make money by providing fake flu vaccines, the U.S.
attorney in Houston said on Friday.

U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said in a statement that Iyad
Abu El Hawa was charged on Friday with attempting to defraud
the Medicare program by providing the fake flu vaccine to
Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries.

El Hawa also provided the fake flu vaccine injections to
over 1,000 workers at the Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery in
Baytown, Texas, during at two-day health fair this month at the
leading U.S. refinery.

Exxon Mobil paid for the injections for their employees,
but El Hawa was also providing injections to senior citizens
who receive health benefits through Medicare and Medicaid.

A preliminary test of syringes intended for use at the
Baytown refinery and found at the offices of El Hawa's home
healthcare business in Houston indicate the syringes contain a
form of purified water, according to Rosenberg.

An Exxon spokeswoman was not immediately available to
comment on the case.

El Hawa was arrested Thursday night and remained in U.S.
custody on Friday. If convicted he faces a possible 10-year
prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.