The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced that it secured $3.8 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud against the government in the last fiscal year alone. This comes from whistleblower lawsuits. It’s the second largest annual recovery in the history of whistleblower lawsuits. This amount brings the government’s total recoveries under the False Claims Act since January 2009 to $17 billion, which is almost half the total recoveries since the Act was amended 27 years ago to allow for qui tam suits. Stuart F. Delery, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, observed:
The $3.8 billion in federal False Claims Act recoveries in fiscal year 2013, plus another $443 million in recoveries for state Medicaid programs, restores scarce taxpayer dollars to federal and state governments. The government’s success in these cases is also a strong deterrent to others who would misuse public funds, which means government programs designed to keep us safer, healthier and economically more prosperous can do so without the corrosive effects of fraud and false claims.
As we have mentioned in prior issues, the False Claims Act is the government’s most powerful tool in fighting fraud, waste and other wrongdoing. The Act was enacted back in the 19th century and gives the government the capability of seeking liability against those entities that commit fraud against the government. Most commonly, fraud occurs under government contracts, including national security and defense contracts, as well as under government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, veterans benefits, research grants and other programs that are funded by the government. Out of the $3.8 billion recovered in 2013, Assistant Attorney General Delery stated that, “As in previous years, the largest recoveries related to health care fraud, which reached $2.6 billion.”
Most false claims actions are filed under the Act’s whistleblower, or qui tam, provisions, which allow private citizens who are aware of fraud to file lawsuits alleging false claims on behalf of the government. If the government prevails in the action, the whistleblower, also known as a relator, may receive up to 30 percent of the recovery. Because the whistleblower may seek a share of the government’s recovery, the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act really incentivizes our citizens to come forward and uncover fraud, which has led to more investigations and greater recoveries.
The number of qui tam suits filed in fiscal year 2013 soared to 752, which is 100 more than the record set the previous fiscal year. The United States Department of Justice reported that recoveries in qui tam cases during fiscal year 2013 totaled $2.9 billion, with whistleblowers recovering $345 million. According to the department it’s
been another banner year for civil fraud recoveries. But it’s also been a great year for the taxpayer and for the millions of Americans, state agencies and organizations that benefit from government programs and contracts.
This type of fraud amounts to billions of dollars each year in lost taxpayer money. Recovering this money on behalf of the government not only helps the government, but it helps all the taxpayers as well — because in the end, it’s the taxpayers who are hurt as a result of fraud on the government. If you know of any potential fraud or waste in government spending, then you may have a False Claims Act case. Lawyers at Beasley Allen are committed to fighting this type of fraud on the government and are willing to speak with anyone who may have this type of information. If you need additional information on this type litigation, contact Ali Hawthorne at 800-898-2034 or by email at Alison.Hawthorne@beasleyallen.com.
Source: The United States Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs
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