Banner Year for False Claims Act Recoveries
The Department of Justice announced that it recovered $4.9 billion for cases filed under the False Claims Act during the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012. It is the largest one-year recovery in the department’s history. Since January 2009, the government has recovered $13.3 billion in settlement and judgments in civil False Claims Act cases.
The majority of the 2012 total was recovered in whistleblower cases filed by private citizens under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. In fiscal 2012, 647 whistleblower suits were initiated under the qui tam provisions and $3.3 billion was recovered from whistleblower suits.
The qui tam provisions allow private citizens, known as relators, to bring cases alleging violations of the False Claims Act on behalf of the government. The government is then given the opportunity to intervene in the relator’s case and take over as lead plaintiff. If the government is successful in recovering any money from the alleged violator, either through a settlement or a civil judgment, the whistleblower may be entitled to up to 30 percent of the recovery as his or her reward under the False Claims Act.
The Justice Department stated that health care fraud made up the largest percentage of the 2012 False Claims Act recoveries at $3 billion, followed by housing and mortgage fraud at $1.4 billion and $427 million in procurement fraud (including fraud related to the procurement of services and equipment for the military).
Health care fraud often involves false claims submitted to Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare (the health insurance program for military members, retirees and their families). The false claims may involve invoices submitted to the government for treatment that was not received or for which the patient was not eligible and kickbacks paid to physicians to refer Medicare or Medicaid recipients to specific facilities. Pharmaceutical companies may also be accused of promoting off-label uses of prescription medications resulting in the submission of false claims to federal health insurance programs.
Mortgage and housing fraud may involve the submission of false claims related to federally funded housing assistance known as Section 8, which authorizes the payment of rental housing assistance to private landlords on behalf of approximately 3.1 million low-income households in the U.S. It may also involve fraud related to federally guaranteed mortgages, such as mortgage loans to military members guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The government settled several cases related to procurement fraud in fiscal 2012 including claims that the U.S. military was knowingly overcharged for goods and services related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, claims that government contractors intentionally underbid on government contracts and then charged the U.S. significantly more to fulfill the contract, and claims that companies entered into bidding agreements regarding natural gas leases sold at auction by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.
If you have any firsthand knowledge, information, or evidence related to any federal, state, county or city government fraud, you should speak with an experienced qui tam lawyer who can help you understand your legal rights and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
If you have a claim, contact the Florida whistleblower attorneys at Rabin Kammerer Johnson for a free and confidential consultation by calling toll free at 877.915.4040.