Have you witnessed fraud, embezzling, failure to comply with regulatory acts by an individual or organization? Are you aware of fraudulent activity regarding a business with a government contract? Have you witnessed a healthcare provider commit fraudulent billing? Do you want to report misconduct, but you’re afraid of retaliation?
The federal government and the state of Minnesota have false claims act laws to protect whistleblowers and encourage private citizens to shed light on misconduct, particularly any illegal activity involving a federally funded contract or program. Our qui tam and whistleblower attorneys can help you expose fraud, hold companies accountable and protect your rights against retaliation.
What is a qui tam action?
Private citizens play an important role as whistleblowers to expose and end fraud on the government. The federal government, and many states like Minnesota, have laws to stop government fraud. These False Claims Act laws permit citizens to bring suits on behalf of the government called qui tam actions. A qui tam action is intended to incentivize citizens to expose fraud involving any federally funded contract or program by entitling whistleblowers to share in the money recovered by the government.
Whistleblowers are entitled to share between 15 to 30 percent of the funds recovered by the government. Depending on the amount of the fraud, these actions can be quite lucrative for whistleblowers. In addition to receiving a portion of the funds recovered, False Claims Acts also protect whistleblowers by prohibiting any form of retaliation, including termination.
Government reimbursements and false claims
If you believe you have evidence of fraud on the government, contact the whistleblower attorneys at our firm. Your evidence will be evaluated to determine whether you can bring a qui tam case under a federal or state False Claims Act. In general, False Claims Act cases arise in several contexts. The clearest context is when a company makes a misrepresentation that leads to government reimbursement under a contract.
Financial fraud related to disclosure and overpayments
Unfortunately, some business owners, contractors, and employees will exploit the bureaucracy of an agency in hopes of recovering unjust compensation or overblown payments. Companies also violate the False Claims Act when they fail to disclose, or omit, a fact that would otherwise lead the government to reduce or withhold payments. Further, False Claims Act cases can arise when a company misrepresents or omits a fact to reduce the amount of money owed to the government.
In the context of government contractors, fraud is frequently perpetrated by billing for services that were not provided, presenting untested equipment as operational and tested, billing for work outside the scope of the defense contract, false certification as a minority contractor, and failure to report a product defect.
How do I report contractor fraud or misconduct?
To qualify as a plaintiff in a False Claims Act or qui tam case, you must have evidence and knowledge that has not been publicly disclosed. Public disclosure most commonly occurs through a government hearing, government report, or the news media. The only exception is when the whistleblower is the original source of the information. Since public disclosure prevents whistleblowers from bringing a case, it is vitally important to consult with an experienced qui tam attorney in order to prevent such a disclosure prior to bringing your case.
Ultimately, False Claims Acts are an acknowledgement by the government that fighting fraud on taxpayers requires a joint effort between private citizens and the government. At the onset of a qui tam action, the case is presented to the United States Attorney’s Office and the government makes a determination whether to actively assist in the litigation of the action.
Healthcare industry and pharmaceutical industry fraud
False Claims Act cases tend to arise in the health care industry, pharmaceutical industry and in companies who have regular contracts with the government. In the health care context, any fraudulent claim submitted to either Medicare or Medicaid constitutes fraud on the government. Examples of health care fraud include:
- billing for services that were never provided
- performing unnecessary medical procedures to increase reimbursement
- performing excessive lab tests when not medically required
- billing for brand name drugs when generic drugs are actually provided
- marketing drugs off-label (for uses not approved by Medicare or Medicaid)
- forging physicians’ signatures when required
- providing kickbacks to medical professionals to use a medical device or product
What do I do if my employer is committing tax fraud?
False Claims Acts exclude tax fraud. However, if you have evidence that your employer or another company is engaged in tax fraud, the IRS Whistleblower Act provides many of the same incentives and protections as the federal False Claims Act.
Contact Our Experienced Whistleblower and Qui Tam Attorneys
If you have evidence or knowledge of your employer or another company defrauding the government, contact one of our attorneys. The lawyers at Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP will review your information to determine all your legal options. Contact us for a free initial consultation.