Employee Profile: Rochelle Wong
May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month — a time to celebrate the heritage and acknowledge the contributions and achievements of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Here at HHS-OIG, May is also a time to honor those in the AANHPI community for their commitment to improving HHS programs and the millions of people they serve.
Rochelle Wong, Los Angeles-based Assistant Special Agent in Charge in Office of Investigations contributes significantly to HHS-OIG's efforts to investigate potential fraud, waste, and abuse in federal health care programs and to safeguard vulnerable populations.
Hailing from California, Rochelle is a third-generation Chinese American and comes from a tradition that values family, education, and community. Family traditions such as celebrating Lunar New Year greatly influenced her upbringing. She attended the University of Southern California for her bachelor's degree in International Relations and East Asian Languages and Cultures.
Prior to joining HHS-OIG in 2011, Rochelle worked as a paralegal at the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Central District of California, in the major frauds unit, and before that, she was a pharmaceutical representative. With her background in enforcing federal fraud statutes and the health care industry, working at HHS-OIG was a natural next step.
As Rochelle embarked on her career, she held onto the foundational values instilled in her by her grandparents, which speak to her character and core beliefs. These include honoring family and respecting one’s elders, embracing lifelong learning by seeking out education and striving for personal growth, taking initiative without expecting personal gain, and remaining humble and kind. She also notes the importance of persisting through hardships because the most significant life lessons often emerge from adversity and resilience. In her words, "A career is a path filled with ups and downs, encompassing various challenges and achievements. Nevertheless, throughout your journey, you will attain your goals in unforeseen ways."
As a seasoned HHS-OIG Special Agent, Rochelle works to expose complex fraud schemes and bring perpetrators to justice. Rochelle has used her investigative acumen and compassion for vulnerable populations to spearhead investigations that have uncovered fraud in Medicaid and Medicare, leading to numerous criminal convictions, civil recoveries, and significant administrative sanctions.
When asked about the most satisfying aspect of her work at HHS-OIG, Rochelle says, "Having the opportunity to serve as a public servant is important, as is protecting programs that affect our most vulnerable populations." She also notes that the opportunity to work with "great talented people" is a highlight.
Rochelle shared two career-highlight cases that uncovered a scheme related to durable medical equipment and a scheme to fraudulently bill Medicare for procedures that were never performed.
A registered nurse who owned a medical supply company in California submitted approximately $8.3 million in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and received almost $4.3 million for those claims. The scheme involved paying kickbacks to patient recruiters in exchange for patient referrals and to physicians for fraudulent prescriptions for medically unnecessary durable medical equipment. The nurse then used these prescriptions to support fraudulent claims to Medicare.
In the other case, a medical doctor who owned a clinic in California submitted $7.5 million in claims for procedures never performed, sometimes involving patients he never met. Overall, he received roughly $3 million from Medicare for the claims that he had performed three expensive procedures: revascularization, ablation of a bone tumor, and the placement of a radiotherapy catheter in a breast.
For Rochelle, the opportunity to work on these cases and hold providers accountable is one of the many meaningful parts of working at HHS-OIG.
Since 2017, Rochelle has played an instrumental role in OIG’s outreach and recruitment efforts. Recruiting and maintaining a diverse and inclusive workforce is an critical part of HHS-OIG’s mission and is critical to our success safeguarding HHS programs and those served by them.
Rochelle sees her role in recruitment as essential because it “ensures that diverse talent is well represented, that there is strengthened leadership, accountability and capabilities, and that the workforce is fair and transparent, enabling equal opportunity.” She adds, "I love it when people have a genuine interest in public service and making a difference."
When Rochelle is not out fighting Medicare and Medicaid fraud or participating in recruitment activities at career fairs, you can find her doing yoga, hiking, or spending time with family and friends. She recently adopted a dog, with whom she enjoys going on long walks.
In her reflections on HHS-OIG, Rochelle notes, “I am inspired by colleagues that drive positive change in HHS programs and in the lives of the people served by these programs and connecting with one another.”
If you are interested in learning more about a career in the Office of Investigations, check out HHS-OIG Mission Critical Positions.