If you believe you have witnessed fraudulent behavior within your company and your company conducts business or interacts with the United States Government directly or indirectly, the following information will explain what you can do.
What is the False Claims Act?
The False Claims Act (FCA) is a federal statute that was enacted at the height of the Civil War in response to the disclosure of widespread fraud perpetrated against the Government. Since its inception, the FCA’ scheme has included qui tam suits, premised on the basic idea that a private citizen with personal knowledge of fraud may bring suit on the Government’s behalf in return for a cut of the proceeds should the suit prevail. To that end the FCA authorizes an individual to “bring a civil action for a violation of Section 3729 for the plaintiff, known as the qui tam ‘Relator’, and for the Government.” 31 U.S.C. § 3730(b)(1). The Government then has the option of either intervening in and prosecuting the action or allowing the Relator to proceed on his/her own pursuant to section 3730(b)(4)(B). The FCA imposes a six year statute of limitations on private rights of action. See 31 U.S.C. § 3731(b).
How Can the FCA Help Me?
Under the FCA, “any person” who: (1) knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, to an officer or employee of the United States Government… a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval; (2) knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement to get a false or fraudulent claim paid or approved by the Government; (3) conspires to defraud the Government by getting a false or fraudulent claim allowed or paid; may be liable to the Government for civil penalties and/or treble damages, and costs. 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a). For purposes of the FCA the term “person” can also mean a company or corporation. Examples include: overcharging for products sold to the government; overcharging for services provided to the government or billing and never providing services at all; contract fraud; defense contractor fraud; Medicare fraud; Medicaid fraud; or other public benefit fraud.
The FCA also contains a cause of action for so called “reverse false claims,” where the person “knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement to conceal, avoid, or decrease an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government.” 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(7). Examples include: falsely certifying importation classification of products imported into the United States; hiding royalty payments owed to the Government; falsely certifying bulk mail licenses for one postage rate and using a lower rate to retain a profit.
How Do I Blow The Whistle?
The procedure for bringing a claim is somewhat rigid and complex. If you believe you are a witness to a FCA fraud, you need to have your case examined by an attorney. It is critical that you do not speak to anyone about the claim until you speak to me first. Once a FCA case is confirmed by me, a federal complaint is written and filed under seal (non-public filing and complaint kept in vault at the District Court) with the clerk of the United States District Court having the proper jurisdiction over the case. Then the complaint is served upon the Office of the United States Attorney. The U.S. Attorney will investigate the case and decide whether or not to intervene on the Relator’s behalf. If the U.S. Attorney believes the case has merit, the United States Government takes over the case and either enters into a settlement or litigates the case against the named defendant(s). The Relator whistle blower still retains his/her right to a portion of the proceeds in the Qui Tam fraud lawsuit which results in a successful settlement or judgment. The Government intervenes in approximately 30% of all cases filed. In the event the Government fails to intervene, it files a declination letter with the District Court and the complaint is unsealed and made public. In a successful settlement or judgment, the Relator obtains a percentage of the recovery, usually between 10%-33% of the treble damages recovered.
Speak With Our Employment Attorneys Today
The experienced employment attorneys at Carey & Associates, P.C. help employees like you located in Connecticut, Manhattan and New York blow the whistle on their companies. We will be with you every step of the way and we will help you fight for what is right. Call us today at (203) 255-4150