False Claims Act (Qui Tam) Whistleblowers

Hagens Berman represents whistleblowers under the federal False Claims Act and the false claims act laws of over 30 state and local jurisdictions. As one of the nation’s top plaintiffs-side law firms, Hagens Berman has the resources and expertise to investigate, develop, advocate for and litigate your whistleblower claim efficiently and effectively. Our national practice of over 70 attorneys in nine offices nationwide has litigated and settled some of the largest cases in legal history and some of the world’s most powerful corporations.

Every year billions of dollars of U.S. government funds are paid to businesses and others who file or cause to be filed false and fraudulent claims for payment to the United States government and various state governments. Detection, investigation and prosecution of this fraud is often impossible without the help of whistleblowers.

The False Claims Act authorizes whistleblowers to sue companies and individuals that defraud the government. These suits are filed under seal in federal court and investigated by the Department of Justice. In return, a whistleblower is rewarded by the government with a significant portion of any recovered funds. In a successful suit, the whistleblower can receive between 15 and 30 percent of the government’s overall recovery.

For an individual who learns that a company, often his or her employer, is engaged in fraud on the government, whether it’s Medicare Fraud, Defense Contractor Fraud, Mortgage or other Financial Fraud, or otherwise, the decision to blow the whistle can be overwhelming. Your reputation, your career and sometimes your safety may be at risk. To challenge fraud under the False Claims Act and protect yourself at the same time, you are required to seek an attorney. Our firm, Hagens Berman, is a firm you can trust to prosecute your case and protect your interest. We have the experience to file and litigate your case under the False Claims Act (FCA) and protect your whistleblower rights.

If you have information regarding fraud on the government, and may have a qui tam case under the False Claims Act, you could be rewarded for reporting it.

In 2013, the Justice Department recovered $3.8 billion in settlements and judgments under the False Claim Act. The largest portion of this amount, $2.9 billion, related to lawsuits filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claim Act by private whistleblowers. The brave individuals who reported the fraud were rewarded with a payout of $345 million in 2013 alone.

What is the False Claims Act?

The False Claims Act is a federal law and is the government’s primary civil remedy to recover false claims for government funds and property. There are also roughly 30 state and local false claims act laws that similarly allow for recovery of funds for state and local governments. The funds are paid out under government contracts, such as national security, defense or procurement contracts. They also include funds paid out under programs including Medicare, Medicaid, veterans’ benefit programs, federally insured loans and mortgages, transportation and research grants, agricultural support, school lunches and disaster assistance.  Read more about the Qui Tam Whistleblower Program

If you believe that you have information about a company that may be engaged in fraud, you could be rewarded for reporting it.

Whistleblowers: know about the various types of False Claims Act fraud:

Health Care Fraud (Medicare/Medicaid) FRAUD

Over the past two decades, whistleblower reporting has led to billions of dollars in settlements on Medicare fraud cases, with whistleblowers receiving up to 30 percent of these recoveries as a reward for exposing misuse of government funds.  These cases involve, among other things:

  • Upcoding schemes that inflate medical bills by claiming patients require more expensive procedures than actually necessary
  • Misrepresentation of diagnoses to justify medically unnecessary services
  • Unlawful billing for procedures never performed or supplies never ordered
  • Payments, also known as kickbacks (Anti-Kickback Statute), to physicians, physician practices, or hospitals from pharmaceutical companies or others in return for drug promotion or purchasing
  • Self-referrals, when a physician refers certain services to an entity in which they have a financial stake (Stark Act)
  • Off-label promotion of drugs and medical devices or billing for non-medically accepted indications

Pharmaceutical Fraud and Medical Device Fraud

This area of qui tam fraud can include a wide range of deceitful practices that often depend on whistleblowers for reporting, including:

  • Off-label marketing, or the marketing of prescription drugs for purposes or to patients not approved by the Food and Drug Administration
  • Safety issues in the production or distribution of prescription drugs
  • Payments, also known as kickbacks, to healthcare providers in order to convince those providers to prescribe certain drugs
  • Unlawful billing schemes that artificially raise the price of prescription drugs
  • Any other scheme that perpetrates a fraud on a government program that purchases prescription drugs, such as Medicare or Medicaid

Defense Contractor Fraud

The aerospace industry has many ties to the U.S. government, including the Department of Defense and NASA. Contracts can be massive, but it’s not just millions or billions of dollars on the line—there may also be lives at stake when fraudulent activity in aerospace and other defense industries occur, making whistleblowers even more important. Fraudulent behavior can include:

  • Intentional inflation of prices on government contracts
  • Unlawful billing schemes, such as charging for high-quality parts or equipment while actually using cheaper substitutions
  • Supplying defective parts
  • Failure to comply with specifications of a contract

Information Technology Fraud

With the drastic rise in information technology has come tremendous government expenditure on IT and related contracts, for everything from transferring hardcopy archives to digital formats to securing national servers. The defrauding of the government in any of these transactions is grounds for action, and whistleblowers are encouraged to report any information concerning, among other things,:

  • Unauthorized substitution of parts or equipment, such as using cheaper, inferior items when a contract calls for a specific, high-quality part
  • Intentional inflation of prices on government contracts
  • Lack of quality control, or the failure to properly test for defects or flaws in security
  • Failure to comply with specifications of a contract

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Construction Fraud

When fraud occurs in civil engineering or construction contracts awarded by the government, not only are taxpayer funds misused, but the everyday people who rely on the bridges, buildings, roads and other outcomes of such projects can be put in serious risk.

  • Failure on the part of the contractor to meet specifications in a government contract
  • Bid-rigging in the obtaining of a government contract
  • Unauthorized substitution of parts or equipment, such as using cheaper, inferior items when a contract calls for a specific, high-quality part
  • Intentional inflation of prices on government contracts
  • Lack of quality control, or the failure to properly test for defects or safety flaws

If you believe that you have information about a corporation, an individual or other entity that is avoiding tax payments, you could be rewarded for reporting it.

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Financial Fraud

In recent years there has been a significant shift to investigation and settlement of financial fraud cases brought under the False Claims Act. Financial fraud is a term that can refer to fraud perpetrated by companies in the financial industry – such as investment or commercial banks, insurance companies and broker-dealers – or fraud in any sector of the economy that is financial in nature.

Hagens Berman has handled some of the nation’s largest financial fraud cases. As part of the global mortgage settlement in 2012, we represented both whistleblowers who sued Bank of America for its part in the mortgage scandal that led to the nation’s most recent financial crises. That global settlement of more than $20 billion included a $1 billion settlement with Bank of America triggered by our law firm’s whistleblower clients.

Unlike most whistleblower lawyers and law firms, Hagens Berman has vast experience in various forms of securities and accounting fraud, with a staff of attorneys experienced in litigating cases and successfully bringing cases through trial and appeals. Our whistleblower legal team is staffed with experts, including many attorneys with financial backgrounds and some with accounting and forensic accounting experience and expertise in whistleblower fraud, including many different types of financial fraud.

Qui Tam Whistleblower Rewards and Protections

In a successful suit, the whistleblower can receive between 15 and 30 percent of the government’s overall recovery.

The False Claims Act authorizes whistleblowers to sue companies and individuals that defraud the government. In return, a whistleblower is rewarded by the government with a portion of any recovered funds. In a successful suit, the whistleblower can receive between 15 and 30 percent of the government’s overall recovery.

A whistleblower, with an attorney, initially files a case under seal in federal district court. This allows the government to investigate the defendant often for an extended period of time. Eventually, the government then can either take over the whistleblower’s case, or it may decline to do so, allowing the whistleblower to proceed with the litigation on his or her own.

According to Department of Justice statistics, the vast majority of False Claims Act cases are initiated by a whistleblower under the Act’s qui tam provisions. If the government prevails in the action, the whistleblower can receive up to 25 percent of the recovery; that increases to 30 percent if the whistleblower litigates and recovers alone. The number of qui tam suits filed in fiscal year 2013 soared to 752—100 more than the record set the previous fiscal year.

Read more about Qui Tam Whistleblower Rewards and Qui Tam Whistleblower Protections.

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Becoming a Qui Tam Whistleblower

Hagens Berman has successfully represented several whistleblowers under the federal False Claims Act and similar state laws. Hagens Berman has more than 70 attorneys across 9 cities, with more than a dozen firm partners focused in this area of practice.  Unlike smaller whistleblower practices lacking the resources to aggressively litigate whistleblower claims for several years against our nation’s largest corporations, our firm has a track record of success that includes some of the largest settlements in legal history. We have been recognized as one of the elite plaintiff firms in this country for several years.

Unlike most whistleblower law practices, Hagens Berman attorneys are proven experts in pharmaceutical litigation, antitrust litigation, securities law, contract law and other areas implicated by False Claims Act actions. The firm has secured several ground-breaking settlements on behalf of consumers, whistleblowers, and investors against publicly traded companies and large investment firms.

Blowing the whistle can be rewarding. Since 1986 False Claims Act recoveries (both federal and state) total more than $28 billion. In 2011 alone the Department of Justice recovered a record-breaking $2.8 billion in False Claims Act Cases, cases initiated by whistleblowers.

If you would like to discuss a potential False Claims Act matter or discuss your whistleblower rights, please contact our Whistleblower Legal Team by emailing whistleblower@hbsslaw.com or by filling out our contact form.

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