Kirby McInerney Calls on Whistleblowers to Combat Fraud in Connection with Coronavirus (Covid-19) Relief04/06/2020
Wars and disasters generally bring forth the best in people – courage, heroism, solidarity. Unfortunately, however, calamities also present irresistible opportunities for corruption and fraud among those who would take advantage.
Government agencies at the federal and state level are spending historic sums to combat the novel coronavirus (Covid-19). Individuals and corporations have previously abused government sponsored relief programs. Disaster relief fraud was rampant in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as were fraudulent schemes to wrongfully obtain bailout funds following the 2008 Financial Crisis. In response, whistleblowers filed hundreds of lawsuits under the False Claims Act – the primary litigation tool for combating fraud against the government – calling out such misconduct. The result was hundreds of millions of dollars in recoveries on behalf of the public fisc – and large sums in awards for the whistleblowers.
Now, it is feared that the massive government spending that is being deployed to fight the coronavirus pandemic may spur new exploitative schemes, potentially diverting billions of dollars of government funds intended to help virus victims and stimulate the economy into the pockets of scammers. The risks include:
- Fraudulent billing for medical services funded directly or indirectly by the government, whether through Medicaid, Medicare, or otherwise, including improper “upcoding” of treatments or claims for reimbursement with respect to treatments that are not medically indicated or not actually provided.
- The payment of illegal kickbacks for referrals which may corrupt medical decision-making.
- Fraud in connection with the procurement of medical supplies and equipment, including the sale of defective or substandard products or of products that do not meet the purchasers’ specifications.
- False express or implied certifications of compliance with conditions established for the receipt of government funds, including prerequisites for grants or reimbursements that are funded directly or indirectly by the government.
- False statements made by companies or financial institutions to obtain bailout funds or other monetary relief, including misrepresentations regarding eligibility, financial condition, need, or intended use of funds.
If you have knowledge about these or other types of fraud, you should consider contacting the attorneys of Kirby McInerney, who are exceptionally well versed in whistleblower litigation. You can contact a Kirby McInerney whistleblower attorney by emailing email@example.com or through the form at the bottom of this page.
Notably, the False Claims Act itself was borne of a national crisis – the Civil War. Also called the “Lincoln Law,” Congress enacted it in 1863 to counter massive fraud by suppliers of the Union Army. The False Claims Act imposes substantial liability – three times damages, plus penalties – on parties that knowingly overcharge (or underpay) the U.S. government. Many states also have their own false claims laws. A primary feature of the False Claims Act is its qui tam or “whistleblower” provision, under which parties aware of fraudulent conduct can initiate lawsuits on the government’s behalf. The government is entitled to intervene in and assume prosecution of the lawsuit. Whistleblowers generally are entitled to receive awards of 15 percent to 30 percent of any recovery.