False Claims Act – Whistleblower Claims

by Mark Wolfe, Attorney at Law In 1863 the U.S. Government enacted the False Claims Actscales and gavel (FCA) as a way to stop and discourage fraud by companies who were selling war supplies to the Union Army during the civil war. It authorizes private citizens with “inside information” to bring a lawsuit on the government’s behalf against a person or business who has fraudulently or wrongly caused the Federal government to suffer a financial loss.

To encourage courageous individuals to step forward and report fraud the FCA provides that the individual who first comes forward and files the claim is rewarded with anywhere from 15- 30% of the government’s recovery! It also allows the person reporting the fraud or initiating the claim investigation to remain anonymous during the preliminary investigation and prevents retaliation once the action is formally started in Court.

These type of claims and cases have been increasing and in 2011, the Federal government recovered over $3 billion and paid almost $530 million to the individual whistleblowers who initiated these actions. Some examples of these type claims include:

– Billing for goods or services that were not provided or that were unnecessary.

– Falsifying certifications, test results, research data, safety reports, and/or product quality.

– Securing contracts through misrepresentation, kickbacks or bribes.

– Misuse or misappropriation of Federal grant funds.

– Duplicate or multiple billing for the same goods or services.

Many States, and some larger municipalities, have also enacted similar FCA laws to protect State and local governments from fraud. Alabama has not enacted FCA laws; however, if a State agency receives Federal funds it is possible a FCA claim can be maintained if the fraudulent loss is passed through the State agency back to the Federal funding. Initial reporting requirements for these type claims can be complex and tedious and may require further investigation and analysis before being presented to the Federal government for review. If you have inside knowledge or information about fraud against the Federal government and want legal help and guidance for the claim, we can help. Consultations are free and confidential. Call 433-7766 or e-mail me at mark@brwlawyers.com 

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