Why be a Whistleblower?
Regardless of your political persuasion, your view about big or small government, or even your position on various government programs, everyone would agree that we need to catch and reduce the amount of fraud committed on the government. Private citizens — whether as consumers, employees, patients or observers — play a critical role in tamping down fraud.
Should I Talk to an Attorney About Fraud Against the Government or am I Going Against My Company?
Not in the eyes of many law-abiding, tax-paying citizens who want government funds spent properly and efficiently. The False Claims Act, initially passed by Congress during the Civil War, and re-enacted several times since then, specifically provides a means for private persons to bring suspected fraud to the attention of the government. More than half of the States have also passed laws similar to the Federal False Claims Act.
How the False Claims Act Law Works for Whistleblowers
In addition to providing the means for private citizens to act, the False Claims Act also puts some serious encouragement behind those provisions, permitting the whistleblower to recover 15 – 25% of the funds recovered by the government on account of the information provided. In the world of whistleblower attorneys, we call it “incentivizing integrity.” Incentivizing — giving you a share of the recovery in acknowledgement of your willingness to step forward and assist the government. Integrity — adherence to moral and ethical principles, trustworthiness, honesty.
Where Might I See Fraud on the Government?
Remember the old adage — follow the money. Governments spend huge amounts of money in the areas of health care and defense, and much of the fraud occurs in those areas. Just recently, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that ninety-one people, including doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, have been charged with committing $430 million in Medicare fraud in seven U.S. cities. Some of these professionals allegedly offered kickbacks to patients and then billed those kickbacks to Medicare. Giant frauds have been uncovered in home health services, mental health services, dental services and ambulance transportation, to name but a few. A recent government strike force team charged 107 doctors, nurses, and other licensed medical care professionals in May 2012 for schemes totaling more than $450 million in false billing. Frequently these scams threaten patient health, as when drug manufacturers induce doctors to prescribe unsafe levels of a drug in order to boost sales or medical device manufacturers falsify test results to gain approval of potentially dangerous products. To read further about Healthcare, Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Fraud, click here.
Smaller scale fraud adds up also. An individual sleep lab runs unnecessary tests on elderly patients, or a chain of pediatric dental clinics exaggerates the number of procedures it performs on children covered by CHIP, or a small company supplies motorized scooters to Medicare patients who really don’t qualify for them — these can result in tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in false billings to the government. The FBI has estimated that Medicare fraud claims up to 10 percent of all health care billings, according to independent website The Medicare Newsgroup.
In the defense contractor fraud arena, substandard goods are sold to the government, hours on contracts are inflated, or companies lie about their qualifications as small businesses, or veteran-owned businesses, or minority-owned businesses. In addition to wasting millions of dollars of federal funds, these frauds often result in our military using shoddy or unsafe equipment. In other areas, also, people cheat and try to get money that they are not entitled to — companies that receive grants, companies that supply school lunches, people who provide home repairs that are financed by the government after a natural disaster. Fraud comes in all flavors. To read further about more Federal and State Whistleblower Laws, click here.
What Should You Look for to Detect and Report Fraud on the Government?
This depends on your role in whatever industry or company you view as suspicious. Employees are often best positioned to detect and report fraud. You might see falsified invoices, forged signatures, questionable test results, cover-ups of defective products, exaggerated payroll records, or anything else that suggests an effort to overbill the government. Successful whistleblowers have worked in accounting departments, on manufacturing lines, in auditing positions, as salespeople, in R&D, as subcontractors, or anywhere in a company that is attempting to cheat the government.
As a patient or consumer, carefully check your bills — especially copies of bills paid by the government, not by you. Often, you are the only one who will know if a bill has been inflated or falsified, perhaps when you or your family member did not actually receive the supplies or services that are reflected on the bill. As a “consumer” of government services, pay attention to what is or is not being provided, perhaps counseling sessions for hospitalized addicts or educational benefits to disabled veterans. Competitors can also spot frauds by other companies, particularly where a competing entity submits an implausible bid or claims to have improbable product specs.
So Should You Report Fraudulent Activity That You Observe?
Yes, unless you don’t mind government funds — your tax dollars — being stolen and diverted from their intended purposes.
Should I be a Whistleblower?
We invite you to learn more about our Whistleblowers, Qui Tam & False Claims Act Practice Group at Berger Montague. For more information or to schedule a confidential discussion about a potential case, please fill out the contact form on the right or email us at [email protected] You can also call us at (215) 875-5712.
How to Report Government Fraud
There are many ways to report fraud against the government. It is best to speak to an attorney on how to handle each individual case. For you free case review and more information, please fill out the case review form on the right hand side of the page.
If you have discovered evidence of government fraud, contact an experienced False Claims Act attorney before blowing the whistle. You may be entitled to a substantial reward and the legal protections afforded to whistleblowers under state and federal laws. The attorneys of Berger Montague are nationally recognized experts in Whistleblower/Qui Tam actions with over a decade of experience pursuing these complex fraud cases. For more information or to schedule your confidential consultation, call us at (844) 781-3088.