Lawyers in our firm continue to investigate qui tam lawsuits, which are suits brought by private citizens on behalf of the United States to recover monies owed to the government. The law provides citizen-Plaintiffs, called “relators,” with powerful incentives – sometimes up to 30 percent of the amount recovered – to report instances of fraud against the federal government. The relator must have first-hand knowledge of the alleged fraudulent activity.
Government healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, are common targets of fraud. Studies have shown that as much as 10% of Medicare and Medicaid charges are fraudulent. Common examples of Medicare and Medicaid fraud include:
• Billing more than once for the same service;
• Charging for services not performed;
• Offering free items or services in exchange for a Medicare or Medicaid number;
• Billing for expensive equipment while providing cheaper equipment; and
• Someone other than the physician completing the certificate of medical necessity.
Without any doubt, fraud on Wall Street has been widespread. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act authorizes the SEC to reward those who expose fraud at public companies from 10% to 30% of the amount it recovers over one million dollars. Whistleblowers have been extremely helpful in uncovering fraud by large corporations. A 2009 qui tam suit resulted in a $2.3 billion settlement of civil and criminal charges against Pfizer for using illegal sales tactics.
According to Reuters, a record 573 new qui tam cases were filed in 2010, an increase from 433, the year before. Justice Department data indicates that awards for reporting fraud hit a record high of $385 million in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010. The total rose nearly 50% from the previous year and was the third increase in a row. Lawyers in our firm who handle qui tam litigation predict that awards like these will create a powerful incentive for more whistleblowers to come forward in 2011. For more information on qui tam suits, you can contact Archie Grubb, a lawyer in our Consumer Fraud Section, at 800-898-2034 or Archie.Grubb@BeasleyAllen.com.
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