The country’s largest ever Medicare scam aiming to cheat the system of $163 million was uncovered and dozens arrested.

Federal prosecutors arrested and charged 73 people during raids across the country. Most of the arrested were of Armenian descent Americans and were captured in New York City and Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta and New Mexico.

The scheme's scope and sophistication "puts the traditional Mafia to shame," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at a Manhattan news conference. "They ran a veritable fraud franchise."

The scammers used bogus clinics and used stolen identities to make false claims for treatment. Prosecutors found that 118 clinics set up by the criminal group were no more than post office boxes.

The gang is charged for setting up some 118 clinics across the US, most of which existed only on paper or were "nothing more than shams, shells, and storefronts", said US Attorney Preet Bharar.

The scam was overseen by Armen Kazarian, known in the former Soviet Union as a "vor," which means thief in law and similar to the Mafia term Godfather prosecutors said.

Kazarian, 46, is in custody in Los Angeles. The respected crime boss arrived in the U.S. in 1996 as an asylum seeker.

The arrested gangsters face up to life imprisonment or a minimum of three years in prison if convicted for charges which include bank fraud, health care fraud, Identity theft and money laundering.