Serving Clients in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, & Nationwide

The False Claims Act (FCA) is a central law in the fight against government fraud, empowering individuals to act against the misuse of public funds. If you suspect fraudulent activities or have witnessed questionable financial practices, the FCA provides a legal framework for addressing these concerns. This law not only aims to protect the government’s interests but also ensures that whistleblowers are afforded certain protections for their brave decision to come forward. 

What is the False Claims Act?

The False Claims Act is a federal law that serves as a powerful tool in combating fraud against government programs and expenditures. Originating during the Civil War era, the FCA was enacted to counteract the sale of substandard goods to the Union Army. Today, it has evolved into an important mechanism for identifying and prosecuting fraudulent claims made by individuals or companies seeking payment from federal funds. In addition to the federal False Claims Act, many states, including Rhode Island, have enacted similar False Claims Act statutes.

How Does the False Claims Act Work?

The False Claims Act operates through a unique legal mechanism known as “qui tam,” which allows private individuals, often called whistleblowers, to sue on behalf of the government in cases of fraud. When a whistleblower suspects that a person or entity is defrauding the government, they can file a qui tam lawsuit under seal, meaning it remains confidential and is not disclosed to the public or the defendant initially. The Department of Justice (DOJ) then has the opportunity to investigate the allegations presented in the lawsuit.

During this investigation phase, the DOJ decides whether to intervene and take over the prosecution of the case. If the government opts not to intervene, the whistleblower may still proceed with the case on their own. Successful FCA cases result in the recovery of stolen funds, with the whistleblower eligible to receive a portion of the recovered amount, usually between 15% and 30%. This incentivizes individuals to report fraud while contributing to the reduction of governmental financial losses.

Common Types of Fraudulent or False Claims

  • Billing for Services Not Rendered: Submitting invoices to the government for medical services, treatments, or procedures that were never actually provided to patients.
  • Upcoding: Charging for more expensive services or items than were actually provided or delivered, inflating bills sent to government healthcare programs.
  • Misrepresenting Product or Service Quality: Claiming that goods or services meet certain specifications, standards, or regulations when they do not, to secure government contracts.
  • Phantom Employees: Billing for employee hours not worked or for employees that do not exist, often seen in contracts or grants involving labor costs.
  • Kickbacks and Bribery: Offering or accepting money or gifts in exchange for favorable treatment in government contract awards or the manipulation of service and product provision.
  • Unnecessary Services: Recommending and providing medically unnecessary services to patients covered by government healthcare programs to increase revenue.
  • Product Substitution: Delivering cheaper, inferior products while billing the government for the premium products originally specified in the contract.
  • Grant Fraud: Misusing or misappropriating funds received through government grants for purposes not outlined in the grant agreement, including falsifying compliance with grant conditions.
  • Double Billing: Charging more than once for the same good or service, a practice that can occur in various government contracting and healthcare billing scenarios.
  • Cost Misallocation: Incorrectly assigning costs to government projects or contracts, often to inflate expenses and receive higher reimbursements.

Are You Protected as a Whistleblower?

As a whistleblower under the FCA, you are granted significant protection against retaliation from your employer or any parties involved in the fraud you report. The FCA explicitly prohibits any retaliatory actions, such as firing, demoting, harassing, or otherwise discriminating against an employee for engaging in lawful acts in furtherance of an FCA claim or other efforts to stop one or more violations of the FCA. If you face retaliation for your whistleblowing activities, the FCA provides remedies, including reinstatement with the same seniority status, two times the amount of back pay plus interest, and compensation for any special damages sustained as a result of the discrimination, such as litigation costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

These protections ensure that individuals can come forward with information about fraud without fear of losing their jobs or suffering from other forms of employer retaliation. Potential whistleblowers should understand these rights and the legal support available to navigate these situations safely and effectively.

How We Can Help

Herman Law Group is adept at guiding whistleblowers through the complexities of the False Claims Act. We offer comprehensive support, from evaluating the strength of your claim to ensuring your rights are protected throughout the process. By leveraging our extensive experience in whistleblower cases, we can help you file your claim correctly, represent you in legal proceedings, and work to achieve a just outcome. Our clients have been involved in cases that were responsible for the recovery of over $40 million and have received whistleblower rewards in the millions of dollars. 

Contact an Experienced False Claims Act Attorney 

Herman Law Group combines comprehensive legal knowledge with a compassionate approach to support whistleblowers under the False Claims Act. Reach out to us for personalized advice and dedicated representation that prioritizes your protection and maximizes your claim’s success. Let’s make a difference together—contact Herman Law Group today.

Herman Law Group is based in Providence but offers its False Claims Act services nationwide. We help clients throughout Rhode Island, including Bristol County, Kent County, Washington County, Providence County, Warwick, and Cranston. Additionally, the firm extends its expertise in Attleboro and all of Massachusetts.