Government fraud is huge business and although there are regulatory watchdogs set up to police various areas such as defense fraud, tax fraud and Medicare fraud, it is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. In order to try to regain control the government has a secret weapon up their sleeve called the False Claims Act. This was introduced way back in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln after defense contractors of the day were being paid large sums of money, but were delivering seriously shoddy goods such as sick and lame horses and mules, faulty rifles and ammunition and rancid rations and provisions. The law was created so that anybody who believed that a person or party was deliberately defrauding the government could file a claim on behalf of the government and if successful, enjoy shares in the monies recovered.
What this means nowadays is that anybody can report fraud and in order to compensate for their whistleblowing, they can receive a percentage of any rewards. This is generally somewhere between 15% and 30% depending upon whether the government intervenes in the case. When you consider that some large scale fraud scams can run into millions of dollars, you can see how thirty percent of that can suddenly become a lot of money. This is a huge incentive to people who would not otherwise be reporting fraud and instead turning a blind eye.
How to Report Fraud
If you have found out, either directly or through another source that your employer is committing fraud, then what should you do? First and most important in cases such as these, it is vital that you speak with an attorney who specializes in dealing with these type of issues. They will offer a free consultation where you can speak with them and from that meeting a lawyer can see as to whether you have a case to answer or not. You can also get any questions answered or voice any concerns that you may have. They will then talk to the relevant departments on your behalf or alternatively they should give you details of exactly what you should do. You can call the Law Offices of David H. Greenberg at 1-888-204-1014. We handle cases from all fifty states, and we can help advise you on the best course of action.
What Types of Fraud can be Prosecuted under the False Claims Act?
In essence there are whole host of frauds that can warrant prosecution and here is just a selection:
- Charging for goods/services that were never delivered
- Charging for any noncontract related activities such as lobbying and marketing
- Delivering shoddy equipment and purposely marking it as good
- In the case of Medicare, performing unnecessary or inappropriate medical procedures to claim reimbursement.
- Charging for work and tests that weren't performed
- Charging numerous times for the same goods and services (double billing)
- Brand billing – Charging for brand named drugs when generic drugs are on offer
- Doctoring time slips and creating phantom employees
- Being overpaid by the government for a sale of services or goods and not reporting it back
- Winning any contract through bribes or kickbacks
- Forging physician's signature in order to claim reimbursement for Medicare/Medicaid
Reporting Fraud Against the Government
Fraud against the government costs them, and indeed the taxpayer, hundreds of billions of dollars each and every year. In fact Medicare Fraud, which is probably the biggest type of fraud committed against the government, costs them a reported $30 billion dollars per annum.
Clearly there are people out there who will say that this type of fraud is harmless because the government can afford it and that it doesn't directly affect them; however, they would be wrong. The government is pumping billions of dollars into the Medicare and Medicaid programs simply to try to balance out the debt and while they are doing that, the money that could be spent in other places. We also have to realize then when a company commits fraud against the government, it is actually committing fraud against you, the American taxpayer!
To make matters even worse, anyone who was seen as ratting on others, whether their employer, a work colleague, or an acquaintance was seen as a little uncouth. However nowadays, this all changed with the Enron fiasco whereby a few employees blew the lid on the company's false reporting and bad accounting that had led to the loss of nearly $11 billion in tumbling share prices. The energy company finally filed for bankruptcy to the tune of $64.3 billion. When this happened people looked at the whistle blowers within Enron in a different and favorable light as they were seen to be doing the right thing.
The False Claims Act is more than just the money; instead it is about changing the face of corporate America by discouraging fraud. In fact, reporting fraud should be the civil responsibility of every individual. It is understandable that some people feel that they don't want to rock the boat for fear of some kind of reprisal, whether through their work, or through acquaintances. In actual fact the government has a whistleblower protection law in which any person must refrain from terminating, suspending, demoting, harassing or abusing a whistleblower. If they do any of the above, then the whistleblower is permitted to file substantial damages directly against the defendant for any stress and anguish caused.
Cases related to whistleblowing and qui tam are normally under seal for 60 days which means that nobody will be aware of your whistleblowing activities (except for the government departments involved) and that includes the people responsible. As you can see, the government has now brought into play a powerful private – public relationship when it comes to uncovering fraud and the resources are available for any person that commits their time to pursuing such a claim. It's just a matter of whether you will do the right thing or alternatively brush it under the carpet and forget it ever happened.Report Fraud Articles