False Claims Act FAQs
Posted on behalf of Gordon & Partners on Feb 19, 2013 in Whistleblower Claims
If you are aware of financial fraud against the government, call the False Claims Act attorneys at Gordon & Partners at 1 (855) 722-2552 or contact our Qui Tam lawyers online. We'll help you file a lawsuit to stop the fraud -- and we'll help you recover up to 30 percent of the money from a favorable outcome.
The Qui Tam attorneys at Gordon & Partners have received professional accolades for their work representing clients in West Palm Beach, Martin County, Stuart, Pembroke Pines, Miami and throughout Florida.
FCA suits brought by individuals are often called "Qui Tam" -- a reference to a Latin phrase that translates as "[he] who sues in this matter for the king as [well as] for himself."
The False Claims Act is a federal law. The full statute is located in law reference books at 31 U.S.C. § 3729. Many states, including Florida, have similar laws that protect and compensate whistleblowers.
FCA suits frequently involve Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security payments, U.S. military contracts and federal education assistance. The law also covers most U.S. government funds, with the exception of tax payments. Fraud that gives rise to an FCA claim can occur in a variety of industries that enter into government contracts, including health care, defense and financial institutions. The law also covers escheat funds or unclaimed property that companies are required to turn over to states.
In many cases, individuals who bring suit under the FCA are corporate employees who become aware of fraud committed by their companies. A plaintiff does not have to have direct knowledge of fraud, only an awareness of it. In some instances, a Qui Tam action against a company is initiated by a customer, a business subcontractor or a medical patient.
Typically, a suit filed under the False Claims Act remains secret or "under seal" for 60 days or more while the government decides whether to pursue the case. These federal cases are not disclosed in any way, even to the individual or company that has allegedly committed fraud, so that the government has a chance to fully investigate the fraud allegations. While the seal initially lasts for 60 days, it may be extend to a year or more. Only after the seal is removed are claims made public.
A reward is offered to whistleblowers to encourage them to step forward as responsible citizens and report suspected fraud. The reward can be substantial. If the U.S. Department of Justice intervenes and fraud is found, the Qui Tam plaintiff is entitled to 15 to 25 percent of the funds recovered. If the government declines to get involved and the plaintiff successfully pursues the case on the government's behalf, the plaintiff's entitlement increases to 25 to 30 percent of the recovered amount. In successful suits, the defendant must pay the plaintiff's legal fees.
Yes, there are time limits, known as statutes of limitation, and the fraud must be reported within those periods or the claim may be barred. There is another reason for stepping forward as early as possible -- under the False Claims Act, the first person to report the fraud is the one who gets to pursue the case and collect the reward.