December 25, 2013 False Claims Act Information
Uncommon and Obscure Fact Patterns in False Claims Act Cases
The False Claims Act has uncovered, and continues to uncover, a bevy of corporate greed, healthcare deception and dishonest behavior. Many cases involve fraud pertaining to a Medicaid, Medicare, or defense contract. However, every now and then, an FCA case will bring about an unusual fact pattern or involve parties not usually considered as obvious or expected defendants. It goes to show that fraud and deceit can lurk in the most unlikely of places.
Historic Southern Eatery Engages in SNAP Fraud
Few people conjure up the image of a humble North Carolina-based hamburger joint when thinking about corporate fraud against the U.S. government. However, a 2011 case proved that even the sweetest Southern hospitality can sometimes be a façade for false claims. In the case against Ladybug Family Restaurant, federal investigators uncovered a widespread scam against federal food program SNAP (formerly referred to as “food stamps”). In its complaint, the whistleblower alleged the restaurant relied upon benefits conferred to EBT cards to make bulk food purchases. The case was ultimately settled $62,000.
Government Uncovers Fraud Within Unassuming Podiatry Industry
Healthcare fraud often occurs within big pharma companies and the like. However, several recent cases reveal that the temptation to upcode and overcharge Medicare and Medicaid occurs in nearly every facet of the healthcare industry. In two recent cases, podiatry offices attempted to get a leg up on U.S. taxpayers by billing the government for services not actually rendered or services above and beyond the actual scope of the medical interaction. In one New York-based case, a Bronx-area foot doctor settled a FCA claim for $1 million. In another case out of Miami, a once-excluded podiatrist was sentenced with a 21-month prison term for violating a prior order prohibiting him from doing business with Medicare and Medicaid – likely based on past instances of fraud.
Whistleblower Receives Record Reward While in Prison
In a highly-publicized case involving fraud against the IRS, one whistleblower received a seven-figure qui tam award for his involvement in revealing widespread, extensive tax fraud involving several offshore Swiss bank accounts. His reward served as the inaugural qui tam victory under the recent changes to the Internal Revenue Code and even prompted the Swiss government to change its tax treaty with the United States.
Have a Bizarre Story to Tell?
Hopefully the above cases have shown that whistleblower cases can appear even in the most inconspicuous places. If you suspect fraud at your workplace but think there is no way your case compares to some of the highly-publicized cases you hear about, consider that fraud occurs everywhere and is not limited to large corporations or global medical companies. If you have a story to tell, contact a reputable whistleblower attorney right away.