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Beaumont To Pay $84.5 Million To Settle False Claims Act In Federal Whistleblower Case

Bothwell Law Group filed a case that aided whistleblowers in the reporting of fraudulent activity by William Beaumont Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. The hospital agreed to pay an $84.5 million settlement to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act of improper relationships with eight referring physicians that led to the submission of false claims to the Medicare, Medicaid and the military Tricare programs.

Federal Whistleblower Attorney

If you have witnessed misuse, fraud or waste of government funds and feel compelled to do something about it, contact us at Bothwell Law Group at 770-643-1606.

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Examples of False Claims Act Violations

Examples of False Claims Act Violations

Examples of False Claims Act ViolationsExamples of False Claims Act violations show the penalties are enormous. But do examples do us any good? It depends on the situation. Many times people learn far better by example than anything else. When you are trying to learn the tango, watching a couple dance with passion teaches more than any book. But when it comes to fraud violations, the examples are frightening.

The False Claims Act exists to punish people who commit fraud against the government. This fraud exists when companies bill the government for services that didn’t take place or overcharge for materials. Billing for services not delivered, overcharging for material goods, failing to provide information related to products or services and charging for skilled professionals who did not perform the work are all examples violations.

Although the law has existed since the Civil War days, Congress made amendments in 1986. The changes allow ordinary citizens to file complaints on behalf of the government. These citizens are the whistleblowers and can receive significant rewards.

Whistleblowers usually work for the company they report for fraud. The False Claims Act protects the whistleblower from retaliation by that company. Whistleblowers that make a complaint of fraud might experience harassment at work. Employers can deny benefits or promotions. Whistleblowers can even lose their jobs. The False Claims Act makes those actions illegal. It also provides a financial reward for whistleblowers.

What Are the Most Common Examples of False Claims Act Violations?

● Most False Claims Act violations are in the healthcare and medical industries. Examples include people who lie to Medicare or Medicaid, facilities that bill for services they did not provide, or those that inflate the cost of the services they did get. They may even lie about who is providing services. The company bills the government for skilled professionals but uses non-professionals instead.

● Drug companies can often be huge offenders of False Claims Act violations. A good example is company salespeople that offer incentives to doctors. Incentives include kickbacks and gifts to the doctors in exchange for using the company’s drugs. Kickbacks can include elaborate vacations and other perks.

● Dental fraud is another example. Dentists claim payments for services they have not completed. For example, a hygienist performs a teeth cleaning, but the bill indicates the dentist did the work and charged his rate.

● More serious examples of healthcare fraud can involve nursing home care or hospice care. The administration may charge for care not given or unnecessary care. The company charges the government for procedures and tests, even though they did not perform the work. Hospice owners may provide care to people who do not need hospice level care.

What Are the Different Types of Violations that the False Claims Act Covers?

Medical and healthcare issues are the most common breaches of the False Claims Act. But there are other violations as well. Here are some examples of False Claim Act Violations:

● Scams that offer free grants for education
● Construction companies working on state highways claim for materials not used
● Business kickbacks or rewards
● Claiming unused materials or labor from defense forces
● Giving untrue information when applying for a government grant or program
● Using lower quality materials than contracted and billed for
● Giving false information to the Department of Veteran Affairs
● Government staff claiming pay for hours that they did not work
● Buying or taking property that belongs to the government

The False Claims Act protects whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers. Examples of retaliation include people losing their jobs because they made complaints, denial of promotions, or not allowing sick days. In addition, whistleblowers might have trouble getting work somewhere else. The company might spread rumors about the whistleblower’s quality of work. They may have them blackballed throughout their industry. All these are violations of the False Claims Act.

What Should You Do If Your Company Is Violating the False Claims Act?

You should consult an attorney experienced in violations of the False Claims Act. They will be able to tell you if your company is breaking the law and committing fraud. They can show you several examples of False Claims Act violations resulting in prosecution. They will also know how to protect you against any retaliation by your employer.

You must report any violations of the False Claims Act that you see. Your attorney will protect you from retaliation. If your allegations result in a conviction, you may receive a huge reward. Contact the skilled False Claims Act attorneys at Bothwell Law Group by calling 770.643.1606 today. We will sit down with you and discuss examples of False Claims Act violations, so you can move forward with confidence.

The Reality of False Claims Act Criminal Penalties

False Claims Act Criminal Penalties

False Claims Act Criminal PenaltiesAre you wondering about False Claims Act criminal penalties? In life we know actions have consequences. If you work out for the first time, your muscles feel the strain. If you celebrate too much, a headache is in store the next day. What about companies who defraud the government by charging crazy prices for basic items? Or hospitals that bill Medicare for procedures never performed?

False Claims Act criminal penalties include huge fines and even prison terms. Usually, a whistleblower is an employee of the offending company. Even if the whistleblower is not an employee, they can pursue a complaint. This suit is a civil action, and civil penalties will apply. If the government decides to pursue a claim, it’s considered a criminal offense. In reality, civil penalties are usually fines, but criminal penalties can lead to prison.

The process of making a claim under the False Claims Act is quite involved. The whistleblower’s attorney files a complaint with the United States District or Federal Court. The Department of Justice then has 60 days to investigate the claim. The government decides if they are going to prosecute or decline. If they decline, the person who filed the complaint still has the option of going ahead with a civil suit.

False Claims Act Criminal Penalties Through the Years

As with other criminal charges, claiming ignorance is not a defense. The company cannot admit the offense but not claim responsibility for it. “I’m sorry, I got it wrong and I promise not to do it again,” is not acceptable to the United States District Court. Here are examples of False Claims Act criminal penalties that some major companies have had to face:

● The court levied the largest fine ever on the drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline. They paid $3 billion in both civil and criminal suits. The cost of penalties can rise in a hurry because each complaint counts as a separate claim. The whistleblowers collected a percentage of this money.
● In Cleveland, a nursing home company paid $145 million in fines for making false claims against the government. The hearing proved the company was claiming that qualified staff provided services to clients. The fact was the staff members providing services were not qualified.
● Trinity Industries paid $663 million when the court found they changed the way they made guardrails. The company contracted with the government, but they did not report the changes they made. This failure to report violated the standard of their government contract and was considered fraud.

Are Criminal Penalties Always Given for Violations of the False Claims Act?

If the government investigates and finds there were no instances of fraud, they drop the criminal complaint. The government has the decision-making power. They can choose to settle the claim or drop the charge, even over the objections of the person who brought the claim to their attention.

The government also has the option of pursuing some claims but not others. If the government investigates a complaint and finds a company defrauded them six times, they can continue all six counts. The court can fine the company for those six counts. But, if the whistleblower stated in his complaint that the company defrauded them eight times, and the government only finds six, the other two charges will not result in criminal penalties.

In addition to massive fines, False Claims Act criminal penalties can also include prison terms. Between the cost of the fines and time served in jail, the ultimate consequences can be intense.

Are There Ever False Claims Act Criminal Penalties for the Whistleblower?

You can see the False Claims Act criminal penalties are enormous. But are there ever any penalties for the whistleblower if they worked for the guilty company? The short answer is usually not. The whistleblower, or relator, finds himself in a tight spot. Often as a condition of his job he has participated in the fraudulent acts. He wants to do the right thing and report the criminal activity. But he doesn’t want to incriminate himself along with his employer.

The good news for whistleblowers is that the government is almost always more interested in prosecuting the bigger fish in the pond. They want to bring the originators and planners of the crime to justice. But prosecutors prefer to interview a whistleblower before they offer them immunity. The problem lies in that the whistleblower may incriminate himself while talking. The responsible thing for the relator, or whistleblower, to do is hire an attorney experienced in filing False Claims Act violations.

Find out more about False Claims Act criminal penalties by contacting the Bothwell Law Group

Can You Really Collect a Reward from False Claims Act Cases?

False Claims Act Cases

False Claims Act CasesCitizens who file False Claims Act cases usually do so because they feel morally compelled to expose fraudulent or illegal activity. Some relators, or the individual reporting the fraud, do not know there is a reward if the defendant is found liable for the money the government lost. Others may feel fear of loopholes or being disqualified from receiving a reward. The truth is you could be significantly compensated for filing a False Claims Act case.

How much can I collect from False Claims Act cases?

The amount rewarded to the relator in a False Claims Act case varies depending on the exact details of the case. Typically, the amount rewarded is determined based on how much money the government recovers from the fraudster, including fines and damages. Under the False Claims Act, the government is entitled to recover up to three times the amount originally lost as a result of the fraud. The relator is then given between 15 and 30 percent of the amount recovered as a reward for reporting the fraud.

What about IRS and SEC laws?

There are two laws that are handled a bit differently than typical False Claims Act cases. First, if you are aware of tax fraud, you can report this through the IRS and you may be rewarded a portion of what is recovered. Secondly, laws exist concerning the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission that entitled you to a portion of the fines collected if the defendant is found liable in the case.

Additional factors to consider:

There are additional factors that contribute to the amount you may be compensated for reporting fraud through false claims act cases:

  • Fines can vary greatly based on how much the individual is fined.
  • The percentage at that each individual is rewarded is different in each state.
  • Investigation by the government may reveal the extent of the fraud is much larger than you were aware, and this could increase your reward.
  • The False Claims Act gives you the right to sue for retaliation. So, if reporting fraud has resulted in personal suffering of any kind, you may be compensated an additional amount.

How do I collect my reward?

In order to collect rewards for false claims act cases, the government must take action concerning the fraud and the defendant must be liable. The process of filing a false claims lawsuit can be very involved, and an experienced and skilled false claims act lawsuit can guide you through the process in a timely manner.

You probably have more questions about false claims act cases. The Bothwell Law Group can help you find the answers you need. Call 770.643.1606 today to get answers about false claim act cases.