The False Claims Act takes the “carrot-and-stick” approach to fraud and waste that affects government funds. It’s also hugely successful.
The qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act essentially reward whistleblowers who report such abuses with a percentage of the money involved. Given that the government recovered $2.8 billion under the False Claims Act in fiscal year 2018 alone, that can amount to a fortune. Meanwhile, the companies and individuals that commit acts of fraud against the government can suffer heavy financial penalties and prosecution.
What exactly is a “false claim” against the government? Since you can’t report something if you don’t realize it’s illegal, here are the things that generally can be considered a false claim:
- Submitting bills for services, tests or anything else that wasn’t actually completed
- Billing the government for unnecessary work because it’s “easy money”
- Billing under two (or more) different descriptions for the same service (double billing)
- Certifying compliance with a government regulation while knowingly not being in compliance
Essentially a “false claim” is any claim made to the government that is knowingly untrue, whether it wrongly asks for money for a service that was never rendered or wrongly asserts that a company is complying with conditions or regulations tied to the government’s money.
The government’s money is everybody’s money, so if you’re an employee who knows that your employer has been making false claims in order to keep those government dollars flowing, you have every right to blow the whistle. It’s always wise, however, to find out more about whistleblower rights and protections before you decide to take the next step.