The False Claims Act protects U.S. taxpayers from fraud committed by government contractors. The Act imposes liability on individuals and entities who knowingly submit false or fraudulent claims to the U.S. government. Under the False Claims Act, any private citizen with knowledge of such fraud can file a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the federal government. To compensate qui tam filers for the effort and risk associated with being a false claims whistleblower, the False Claims Act allows them to receive a portion of the recovered funds. Many states have passed legislation to extend provisions of the False Claims Act to the state level.
Federal and state whistleblower laws protect employees from being retaliated against for reporting suspected fraud or wrongdoing. If you have evidence that a government contractor is submitting false or fraudulent claims or if your business is currently the target of a qui tam lawsuit or has been accused of retaliating against a whistleblower, an experienced Monmouth County business attorney can help.
What Whistleblower Protections Does the False Claims Act Provide?
Not only are qui tam filers entitled to receive 15 to 30 percent of the recovered funds, they are also entitled to reimbursement of reasonable attorney fees and costs. Additionally, if an employer is found to have retaliated against a qui tam filer, he or she may be entitled to job reinstatement, double back pay and special damages.
What Constitutes Fraud Under the False Claims Act?
Any person or entity that knowingly presents a false or fraudulent claim to the government, uses a false record or statement to obtain payment from the government or to avoid paying money or transferring property to the government and/or conspires with others to defraud the government, may be subject to liability under the False Claims Act. Specific examples of such fraud include:
- Winning a government contract with kickbacks or bribes
- Billing for goods that were never delivered or services that were never rendered
- Billing for hours not worked or employees who were not present (phantom employees)
- Billing for the same good or service twice (double billing)
- Failing to notify the government about overpayments
- Billing for better-quality equipment than was provided
- Submitting falsified test results or billing for tests that were never performed
- Certifying a product has passed a test when it has not
- Billing for unperformed research or falsifying research findings
- Falsifying records concerning natural resource production
- Exaggerating performance with falsified records
- Failing to disclose known product defects
- Misrepresenting the value of imports or their country of origin
- Performing unnecessary medical procedures and tests
- Bundling and unbundling billing codes for medical tests
- Billing for unapproved drugs
- Billing for a brand name drug when a generic one was given
- Using doctor rates when work was performed by an intern or nurse
- Marketing drugs for unapproved uses
If you are in need of legal advice concerning a whistleblower claim or other employment litigation matter, contact a qualified Monmouth County business lawyer today.