We work with whistleblowers to expose fraud against the government.

Education & Research Fraud

Qui tam claims protect deserving recipients of grants and loans.

Government grants and loans are essential to the pursuit of groundbreaking research efforts and individual educational endeavors — and the government needs and wants to know when fraudulent actions are diverting funds from deserving recipients. Persons who are aware of fraudulent grant claims may be eligible to collect a reward from the government if they are able to successfully bring about a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit against the parties responsible.

Every year, the Department of Education makes billions of treasury dollars available to institutions to help students pay for higher education at public, private nonprofit, and private for-profit schools. To qualify for these funds, however, students and schools must both satisfy certain eligibility requirements. Cases of student loan fraud often involve institutions of higher learning making false statements to the Department of Education in order to meet these requirements.

The False Claims Act has been used to recover millions of tax dollars from educational programs and institutions that use fraudulent marketing practices or deceptive recruitment tactics, improperly and aggressively recruit unqualified students, misrepresent compliance and student data to the Department of Education, and improperly retain unqualified students in order to continue requesting loans. Recently, a number of for-profit colleges, including the University of Phoenix and Kaplan, have been pursued for enrolling and therefore, enabling, otherwise ineligible students to qualify for federal student loans.

Universities, nonprofit organizations, and hospitals often depend on government-issued grants to conduct important research for the common good on a wide variety of topics. Unfortunately, grant recipients sometimes misuse these funds.

Familiar areas of grant funding involve research at academic medical centers, hospitals, and other institutions. At academic medical centers, for example, federal payments for research overhead, called indirect payments, total tens of millions of dollars a year. Inflated costs often violate the provisions of the federal grant applications that the government approved. In a recent qui tam case, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provided Cornell’s Weill Medical College a five-year, $23 million grant to study a variety of children’s diseases. The federal government learned of fraud through a whistleblower and filed a lawsuit against Cornell claiming that the university had been awarded federal funding for research that never happened. Additionally, Cornell billed NIH for nurses who were supposed to focus exclusively on pediatric research yet were routinely at work treating regular patients, and falsified the grant application by including the salaries of phantom nurses to inflate its research costs. The university ultimately paid a $4.4 million settlement to the government.

  • Paying for inflated overhead expenses, such as salaries or expenses for another project or other work
  • Overstating expenses and misdirecting money
  • Making false grant claims or misrepresentations on grant applications
  • Failing to fully disclose funding sources
  • Making false statements in the administration of grant money
  • Overstating success to receive additional payments

What is Qui Tam?

Under the Federal False Claims Act (FCA), whistleblowers have the power to save taxpayers billions of dollars each year by taking a stand against fraud. The U.S. False Claims Act allows private citizens to file suits on the government’s behalf when the government has been defrauded through any federally funded contract or program. The qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act allow these citizens to recover damages. A number of states and the city of Chicago also have laws similar to the False Claims Act to protect against fraud. To learn more about the different types of fraud … READ MORE

Celebrating Whistleblowers and Qui Tam Attorneys

July 30, 2019 National Whistleblower Appreciation Day was established to acknowledge and celebrate the courageous people who expose misconduct and speak up against fraud. Last year, the U.S. Senate recognized July 30th as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day” to honor the anniversary of the…

Dallas Attorneys Honored on Texas Super Lawyers Rising Stars List

August 27, 2019 This year, Dallas attorneys Caitlyn Silhan, Christopher Johnson, Erin Wood, and Patrick Wigle were selected for the 2019 Texas Super Lawyers Rising Stars list. These four attorneys were all selected based on the outstanding work they do for plaintiffs. These attorneys represent a variety of practice areas, including civil litigation, products liability, and general personal injury. Only the top 2.5 percent of attorneys in Texas are selected to the list. To be considered, each candidate must be 40 years old or younger and have practiced for 10 years or less. About Caitlyn Silhan Caitlyn Silhan was selected to the 2019…

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