In the United States, ordinary people can file lawsuits when it comes to fraud committed at federal taxpayers expense. It’s a centuries-old American tradition, dating to 1778. Today’s whistleblowers operate under the provisions of the False Claims Act, enacted in 1863 and considered to be one of the most effective tools of the federal government to combat fraud.
From 1986 to 2019, the False Claims Act recovered more than $62 billion in taxpayer money. And over 70 percent of that came from cases filed by qui tam whistleblowers. In that time, qui tam relators received over $7 billion in awards.
In 2019, there were 633 False Claims Act cases started by whistleblowers, leading the way to over $2.1 billion in recoveries for federal programs, continuing a long legacy of ordinary people fighting for what’s right. Many of these cases were also helpful in recovering losses in state Medicaid programs. On average, more than 12 qui tam lawsuits were filed by whistleblowers every week.
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The False Claim Act’s qui tam provision provides for incentives for the relator, so that he or she may receive part of the proceeds of a victory on behalf of the government. While these awards are not guaranteed, from 1986 to 2019, whistleblowers received over $7 billion in awards.
The False Claims Act is useless without whistleblowers. The government needs the help of everyday men and women to assist in uncovering and prosecuting fraud.
Areas of Qui Tam Whistleblower Cases
Over 85 percent of 2019 recoveries came in healthcare. But healthcare fraud isn’t the only area the False Claims Act covers. In fact, we’ve worked on all kinds of whistleblower qui tam cases. The False Claims Act applies to fraud involving any federally funded contract or program, except in cases of tax fraud. In 2019, taxpayer money was also recovered in areas of defense, national security, mineral rights, small business programs, U.S. postal service, and education. It is impossible to list all the types of cases prosecuted under the False Claims Act, but here’s a general idea:
- Billing for goods and services not delivered or rendered
- Obtaining any federal contract through kickbacks or bribes
- Shifting expenses from one fixed-price federal contract to another
- Providing inferior or defective products to the government
- Defective testing of products
- Double billing
- Overbilling for telecommunications surveillance charges
- Misconduct by telecommunications accepting broadband stimulus money
- False billing for providers servicing hearing and talk impaired customers
- Upcoding healthcare charges using a different code for a more expensive treatment
- Billing for healthcare tests not performed
- Kickbacks provided for the referral of Medicare, Medicaid, or other federally funded healthcare program beneficiaries.
- Billing for non-FDA approved drugs or devices
- Illegal marketing of prescription drugs and medical devices
- Underwriting mortgages that do not meet FHA requirements