Phantom firms bleed millions from Medicare | Reuters

SHELL GAMES: A Reuters Investigation

Articles in this series explore the extent and impact of corporate secrecy in the United States.

By Brian Grow and Matthew Bigg

MIAMI/ATLANTA By the time authorities busted a fake AIDS clinic in Miami, it had bilked Medicare of more than $4.5 million. Still, the man behind the scheme remained far ahead of the agents pursuing him.

Michel De Jesus Huarte, a 40-year-old Cuban-American, hadn't simply avoided arrest. He had hatched a plan to steal millions more from Medicare by forming at least 29 other shell companies - paper-only firms with no real operations. Each time, he would keep his name out of any corporate records. Other p