Fraud against the government, like any fraud, is just theft by another name. The ultimate victim is not the government: it is the hardworking taxpayer. Government funds come from taxpayers, and so theft from the government is theft from taxpayers.
Government fraud can also create an uneven playing field for contractors bidding for public work. Those who illegally cut corners can lower their operating costs, and undercut legitimate businesses in public bidding. This can lead legitimate businesses to avoid competing for some public works, or to lose out when they do bid. Businesses that cut those corners often deliver substandard goods or services. The public pays the contract price but gets substandard goods in return.
People who blow the whistle on fraud against the government are doing their part to help protect the taxpayers from having their pockets picked. But there are often tremendous professional and economic pressures brought to bear to silence whistleblowers. Fortunately, the law provides protections against such retaliation. Whistleblowers need good counsel to protect themselves throughout the process.
At Kennedy Vuernick, we believe that people who blow the whistle on fraud against the government perform a valuable public service. They help protect taxpayers from having their hard-earned money siphoned into the pockets of thieves. These individual and corporate whistleblowers deserve our support, and we are honored to use our skills and experience to help them.
With combined experience of almost 30 years as white-collar prosecutors, we know what government prosecutors look for in a case, which cases will appeal to them, and, just as important, which cases will not. We have decades of experience both as government attorneys ourselves, and as private attorneys working False Claims Act (FCA) cases with the federal and state governments. We draw on that experience in deciding how to best present our client’s information to the government, and in working cooperatively with the government throughout the litigation.
Kennedy Vuernick attorneys have been involved in FCA recoveries totaling hundreds of millions of dollars in the past decade. We use our extensive experience in complex fraud litigation to investigate and litigate FCA cases on behalf of our clients.
FCAs impose penalties on individuals and businesses that present false claims to the government. The federal government and almost every state each have their own FCA.
A false claim can be a request for payment from the government that is false in some significant way. These claims can relate to almost anything the government pays for: from construction projects, to medical care, to office supplies, and anything in between. (The FCA excludes certain types of transactions from its reach, and individual guidance is required.)
The FCA also imposes penalties for “reverse false claims.” A reverse false claim is a false statement that evades or lowers a person’s obligation to pay money to the government, for example, a customs duty or a licensing fee. (The FCA excludes certain types of transactions from its reach, and individual guidance is required. Taxes are often excluded from FCAs.)
Penalties include three times the amount of the false claim, plus a monetary fine for each false claim that was submitted.
The person who first “blows the whistle” on a fraud (called the “Relator”) can receive a reward of between 15% and 30% of the amount the government recovers, if the person satisfies the various requirements of the FCA.
If the FCA case is successful, the person or business that committed the fraud must pay the Relator’s attorney’s fees.