If you have witnessed a deliberately false invoice or other claim submitted to the government as a contractor you are potentially eligible for more than just protection. In some cases, you may be entitled to some of the funds recovered from a civil fraud prosecution.
Under the False Claims Act (FCA) a whistleblower can file a lawsuit themselves on behalf of the federal government. If the claim for reimbursement or services was found to be knowingly submitted as fraud you may be entitled to part of the damages. This is just one important way in which you are protected if you see overcharges or other claims submitted and want to report them.
The False Claims Act
The FCA is an important tool for empowering employees and contractors who witness fraud to take action. Established during the Civil War, it gives anyone who witnesses fraud to sue on behalf of the government.
If the false claim is found to have been knowingly submitted those who filed the suit are entitled to part of the damages. It is true for all payouts and reimbursement by the federal government, either wholly or in part of any contract, except for tax claims.
High profile cases
One case which made the headlines involved a suit by employees of an Ohio company which treats patients under Medicare. They were accused of over-billing for services, and settled the lawsuit out of court. The total payout of $19.5 million in damages and fines included $3.6 million to the employees who brought the suit under the FCA.
This is unusually high, but it shows how broad-reaching the FCA is. If you have witnessed fraud against the government in your workplace there is a great incentive for you to become a whistleblower and report it.
A significant amount of money
The Department of Justice reported that in 2016 a total of $4.7 billion was recovered under the FCA. There were 702 such lawsuits filed that year. It is considered an important tool for controlling fraud on the part of contractors and service providers.
The number of cases has been rising in recent years as more whistleblowers are stepping forward. Where there are many incidents in the healthcare industry, nearly every area funded by the government has had cases in the last few years. This includes government contractors of all kinds.
Does not cover everyone
The FCA is just one of many ways in which whistleblowers are protected under federal and state law. If you are witnessing fraud and want to report it, you are always assured that you cannot be punished for doing the right thing. It’s never your job to look the other way when fraud is occurring, and you are protected. The False Claims Act is simply one important way that you can be sure of it.