For the 4th year in a row, the Department of Justice recovered more than $3.5 billion in settlements and judgements in False Claims Act cases for fraud against the government.
“The False Claims Act has again proven to be the government’s most effective civil tool to ferret out fraud and return billions to taxpayer-funded programs,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The recoveries announced today help preserve the integrity of vital government programs that provide health care to the elderly and low income families, ensure our national security and defense, and enable countless Americans to purchase homes.”
These recoveries are often made possible by private individuals represented by whistleblower law firms like James Hoyer. Taxpayers Against Fraud, a non-profit which works to works to educate the public about whistleblower programs, noted that a higher percentage of successful cases were filed by whistleblowers in 2015.
- Of the $3.58 billion collected under the federal False Claims Act in FY 2015, a record $ 2.91 billion was awarded in whistleblower-initiated cases.
- Whistleblowers were awarded a record $597.6 million for their contribution in helping recover this $2.91 billion dollars.
- Of the total amount awarded to whistleblowers, $334.6 million was awarded to relators in declined cases – a record amount.
Patrick Burns, co-Executive Director of Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund, noted that the law was working exactly as it should.
“Government will never have all the resources it needs to find and pursue every act of fraud. That’s why the False Claims Act incentivizes whistleblowers to come forward with non-public information, and why it allows private lawyers, working for those whistleblowers, to pursue fraud cases on the government’s behalf,” said Burns.
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Of the $3.5 billion recovered last year, $1.9 billion came from companies and individuals in the health care industry for allegedly providing unnecessary or inadequate care, paying kickbacks to health care providers to induce the use of certain goods and services, or overcharging for goods and services paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal health care programs. The $1.9 billion reflects federal losses only. In many of these cases, the department was instrumental in recovering additional millions of dollars for consumers and state Medicaid programs.
The next largest recoveries were made in connection with government contracts. The government depends on contractors to feed, clothe, and equip our troops for combat; for the military aircraft, ships, and weapons systems that keep our nation secure; as well as to provide everything that is needed to fund myriad programs at home. Settlements and judgments in cases alleging false claims for payment under government contracts totaled $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2015.
The False Claims Act is the government’s primary civil remedy to redress false claims for government funds and property under government contracts, including national security and defense contracts, as well as under government programs as varied as Medicare, veterans’ benefits, federally insured loans and mortgages, highway funds, research grants, agricultural supports, school lunches, and disaster assistance. In 1986, Congress strengthened the Act by amending it to increase incentives for whistleblowers to file lawsuits on behalf of the government.