The False Claims Act (FCA) is a federal law that allows individuals to bring lawsuits on behalf of the government against groups that have defrauded the government. The FCA, originally passed in 1863, has long served as a vital tool against corruption and fraud in the government.
Because of its sweeping coverage, there are many different types of FCA cases. Read on to learn about a few common ones. We’ll also detail a few examples. For more information about FCA cases, contact one of our stellar employment attorneys.
Understanding a Few Key False Claims Act Terms
Because of its age, you’ll often hear several legal terms for FCA cases. These terms can make it all but impossible to understand your legal rights. Let’s run over a few of them.
- Qui tam: A Latin term derived from a longer phrase that means “in the name of the King,” the FCA’s qui tam provision allows a private citizen to file a lawsuit on behalf of the government against a company that has defrauded the government. Qui tam plaintiffs can receive a portion of the money awarded to the government.
- Relator. The private citizen acts as a whistleblower and who files a lawsuit on behalf of the government is known as a relator.
- Knowingly: To prove an FCA violation, your lawyer has to show that the defendant (your employer) acted knowingly. That means they acted intentionally, in deliberate ignorance, or in reckless disregard of the falsity of the information they provided to the government.
- Materiality. Materiality refers to whether the alleged fraudulent activity would have a significant impact on the government’s decision to pay a claim or enter into a contract.
- Damages. Damages refer to the amount of money the defendant may be required to pay if found liable in an FCA case. Companies that violate the FCA typically have to pay three times the amount of damages sustained by the government, plus penalties.
What Are Some Common Types of False Claims Act Cases?
Any experienced whistleblower attorney will be able to tell you that some FCA cases are more common than others. Here are a few recurring types of FCA cases.
The healthcare industry is one that is particularly susceptible to FCA violations because of the high amount of government funds it receives. Healthcare fraud can take many forms, including billing for services not rendered, over-billing for services, “upcoding” services to receive higher reimbursements, and providing medically unnecessary services. Common bad actors include hospitals, nursing homes, and pharmaceutical companies.
Defense Contractor Fraud
Another common area for FCA cases is defense contractor fraud. Defense contractor fraud generally involves a situation where a company contracts with the government to provide goods or services, but fails to deliver the promised products or services. Defense contractor fraud cases also often include companies that submit false invoices, knowingly provide defective products, and fail to comply with contract terms.
Procurement fraud often involves companies that make false or fraudulent statements to win a contract with a government agency. This can include submitting false information, inflating costs in the bidding process, or otherwise unfairly disadvantageing competitors in the bidding process.
Mortgage fraud takes place when a company lies or misleads the government about one or more mortgages. It can include submitting false loan applications, inflating home appraisals, and providing false income information to qualify for a loan. This type of fraud frequently leads to significant harm to the government and taxpayers, particularly in cases involving federally insured mortgages. One recent instance of mortgage fraud involved U.S. Bank, which stood accused of knowingly originating and underwriting mortgages that did not meet all regulatory requirements.
Grant fraud occurs when a business receives grant funds from the government and then misuses them. Companies committing grant fraud frequently submit bogus grant applications, redirect grant funds into personal bank accounts, and falsify grant reports.
Environmental fraud occurs when companies violate environmental laws and regulations to obtain government contracts or funding. Improperly disposing of hazardous materials, making fake claims in environmental reports, and violating permit requirements are all common symptoms of environmental fraud.
Curious to See How Your Case Matches Up with Our False Claims Act Examples? Reach Out to Us Today
Here at King & Siegel LLP, we understand the importance of whistleblowers in uncovering fraudulent activity. Thanks to their efforts, the government can hold companies accountable for their actions. If you believe that you have witnessed fraudulent activity in any of these areas, don’t wait. We encourage you to contact us for a free consultation to discuss your legal options. Our team will help guide you through the legal process and safeguard your rights.
We don’t want money to be an issue for any whistleblower, so we offer free initial consultations to all potential clients. Get in touch with us today by calling us or reaching out online.