False Claims FAQ
What Is The False Claims Act?
The purpose of the False Claims Act is to punish the dishonest use of governmental money and thus deter others from defrauding taxpayers. The FCA imposes triple damages and fines against the defrauding party (often totaling millions of dollars), and entitles you as a whistleblower relator to receive 15 to 30 percent of the total amount recovered.
However, FCA cases are fraught with hurdles and pitfalls. They can only be brought by an attorney on behalf of a whistleblower. Only the first relator to file can recover a bounty. The complaint must be filed under seal. And any public disclosure or breach of the seal can be fatal to a relator’s case. False Claims Act cases can be worth millions of dollars to you, but your claim will be rendered worthless if you do not follow these special procedures.
What Are False Claims?
Examples of false claims include falsely certifying a condition of payment, billing for services not done or that are unnecessary, upcoding or overbilling, billing for substandard service or goods, and failing to pay or refund money owed to the government. There is a six-year statute of limitations, so any false claims going back six years are fair game.
Who Is Subject To False Claims?
Any person or company that fraudulently receives federal or state money is subject to the False Claims Act. Many false claims concern Medicare or Medicaid payments to health care providers or pharmaceutical companies. But any other business that directly or indirectly receives federal funds, such as defense contractors or transportation infrastructure contractors, are subject to false claims actions. Actual knowledge that the claim is false is not necessary — merely acting in reckless disregard or in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the claim is sufficient.
Am I Protected From Retaliation If I Express Concerns Over Fraud And Waste?
Yes. There are many laws that protect employees who blow the whistle on fraud or waste involving government money. And under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, individuals who report the misuse of federal or state funds can recover damages for any resulting retaliation.
Do I Need A Lawyer To Proceed With A False Claims Case?
Yes; you cannot proceed without a lawyer. Due to the special procedures involved in FCA matters (including the filing of a complaint under a seal of secrecy), it is imperative not to talk to anyone about your concerns until you have a chance to consult with a knowledgeable attorney. If you know of the waste or misuse of federal or state funds and are not sure what to do, call me to see if you may be entitled to a large FCA award. Any such calls will be held in the strictest confidence with no charge for the consultation.