Our New York False Claims Act Law Firm Focuses on Qui Tam Cases
Halperin Bikel Lawyers Help You Report Fraud, Avoid Job Retaliation,
and Maximize Your Cash Rewards
Private companies receive billions of dollars in funding and contracts from federal agencies each year. With so much to account for, it's impossible for the government to keep track of it all. That's why federal investigators rely on qui tam whistleblowers to report evidence of fraud and initiate qui tam lawsuits filed under the False Claims Act.
What is a Qui Tam Whistleblower?
The False Claims Act makes it illegal for entities that receive federal dollars to submit false claims for payment to the government. It also allows everyday people, known as qui tam plaintiffs or relators, to report such false claims and file fraud lawsuits on the government's behalf. Because the lawsuit is under a qui tam relator's name, e.g. John Doe, relator on behalf of the People of the United States, it allows the government to help prosecute the case.
Qui tam comes from a Latin phrase that means "he who sues in this matter for the king as well as for himself." A qui tam plaintiff doesn't file a lawsuit just for their own personal benefit, but for the benefit of the government and all U.S. taxpayers.
For their courage and effort, qui tam whistleblowers are rewarded
with a portion of all money recovered which can include:
- A monetary award up to 30% (but more often 15 to 20%)
- Some measure of privacy as False Claims Act lawsuits are filed “under seal”
- Retaliation damages
In addition to the main qui tam lawsuit, whistleblowers may file related claims against the defendant. Most commonly, this takes the form of a retaliation lawsuit, if the whistleblower is fired or bullied for reporting fraud at their job.
Qui Tam Whistleblowers’ Reports Typically Fall Into These Categories of
False Claims Act Violations:
- • Healthcare Program Schemes (Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE)
- • Military Procurement (Department of Defense Contract Cheats)
- • Pharmaceutical Fraud (From Production to Marketing)
- • Financial Misconduct (Often Banking or Mortgage Deceits)
- • Government Contracts (Goods or Services False Billings)
Halperin Bikel lawyers know how to prepare, package and
present your case so that it will attract the interest of the federal prosecutors who sift through literally thousands of complaints each year to select the handful they will pursue.
Qui Tam Relators Put a Stop to Healthcare Fraud
Fraud can take many forms, with health care fraud being one of the most common. Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE and state insurance programs are frequently targeted by fraudsters trying to make a profit on the backs of American taxpayers.
Examples of this misconduct include:
- Billing for a procedure that was never performed, or billing for a more complex procedure than what was actually provided (billing schemes)
- Falsifying records and reports to increase reimbursements from insurance companies
- Billing for a name-brand drug instead of a generic
- Lying about a patient's diagnosis or the medical necessity of a procedure or drug
- Providing care without proper licensing or doctor (or other medical professional) oversight
- Giving medically unnecessary ambulance transport
- Giving gifts and incentives to doctors in exchange for patient referrals (anti-kickback violations)
- Referring patients to a facility where a healthcare provider has a financial stake
(Stark Law violations)
These schemes happen at medical offices, hospitals, ambulance/EMS services, nursing homes and pharmacies across the country. If you want to stop fraud happening at your workplace, it's important to contact a whistleblower lawyer as soon as possible.
Hundreds of Millions of Dollars are Stolen Through Defense Contract Fraud
By far, the largest portion of federal contracts go to military and defense suppliers. Unfortunately, some of these suppliers cut corners and/or otherwise deceive the Department of Defense in an attempt to make contracts illegally more profitable. Not only does this hurt the American economy, but the practice puts lives at risk.
Fraudulent defense contractors may engage in:
- Cross-Charging: Shifting costs from a fixed-price contract to a cost-plus contract
- Wrongful Cost Allocation: Shifting costs that should be paid through a private or foreign contract to the DoD
- Buy American: Using foreign materials when American materials are required
- TINA Violations: Inflating prices when they have the market cornered
- Contract Specification Fraud: Knowingly submitting products that do not meet the government's specifications or will not work as promised
- Improper Material Substitution: Using inferior materials, or materials that have been damaged or refurbished
- Accounting Fraud: Falsifying expense reports, accounting records, or the cost of materials
Defense contract fraud is serious. If you believe it's happening where you work, you can report it anonymously today but speak with an experienced whistleblower lawyer before taking any action to assure you follow the specifics to earn a reward and seek anonymity.
Government Contract Fraud Is All Too Common
Military contracts are just one kind of contract the government needs fulfilled. Government contract fraud, also known as procurement fraud, can happen at any entity that provides goods, services, or property to the government.
This spans across virtually every industry, including construction, oil and gas, renewable energy, food, office supplies, consulting, and technology.
Government contract fraud schemes include:
- Bribing or offering kickbacks to public officials
- Making false statements when bidding for a contract
- Bid rigging (when vendors conspire to artificially inflate the price of goods by submitting sham bids)
- Delivering substandard (or even non-existent) goods or services
- Anti-competitive actions (when vendors secretly agree not to compete with each other)
- Submitting grant and research applications with false information, or using funding on unauthorized purchases
- Untrue claims of minority or veteran owned business status
These are just a handful of ways a contractor or vendor might defraud the government. If you have evidence of government contract fraud, consider reporting what you know and becoming a qui tam plaintiff.
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Qui Tam Whistleblowers Can Earn Multimillion-Dollar Awards
If you report fraud and the government takes up your case, you may be entitled to a significant reward. Qui tam relators receive between 15% and 25% of any money the government recovers through damages, fines, penalties and interest.
In many cases the whistleblower award is in the six or even seven figures range and occasionally in excess of $10 million.
In some cases, the government may decline to take up a whistleblower's case. However, this doesn't always mean the case is unviable. The whistleblower can choose to pursue the case privately, and they can earn even more: 25% to 30% of any money recovered.
Whistleblowers are Legally Protected from Employer Retaliation
Importantly, the False Claims Act prohibits employers from retaliating against qui tam whistleblowers. Under the law, employers cannot fire, harass, demote, bully, or otherwise discriminate against an employee that blows the whistle on fraud.
This applies to employees who report fraud internally, file qui tam lawsuits, provide testimony, or support a government fraud investigation.
An employer who is found to have retaliated against a whistleblower may be ordered to:
- Reinstate the whistleblower to their position
- Pay back wages plus interest
- Pay compensatory or pain and suffering damages
- Pay attorney's fees for the qui tam plaintiff
If you've suffered professional consequences for reporting misconduct, talk to your whistleblower lawyer. They can help you hold your employer accountable and get your career back on track.
Five Rules for Maximizing Your Whistleblower Award
There are a few things you can do ensure you earn the highest whistleblower award possible:
- Avoid participating in the fraud.
- Although it is possible to become a qui tam plaintiff if you were a part of the fraud, the court will likely decrease your award.
- Don't report directly to the government.
- Reporting fraud with the help of a lawyer will ensure that you preserve your right to an award. Avoid government hotlines.
- Be the first to file.
- Under the False Claims Act, only the first whistleblower to file a case is entitled to a reward.
- Provide high-quality information and evidence.
- The stronger the evidence, the higher the total recovery and, therefore, the higher whistleblower payout.
- Get assistance from an experienced whistleblower lawyer.
- This is the single most important factor that affects the amount of your reward.
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