Whistleblowers were responsible for nearly 92 percent of the $3.7 billion the United States government recovered in cases involving false claims and fraud in fiscal year 2017, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
While 2017’s recoveries mark a significant decline from fiscal year 2016’s $4.7 billion in false claims recoveries, the numbers indicate that whistleblowers played a substantially larger role in initiating False Claims Act actions in 2017 than the government itself.
According to the DOJ’s figures, individuals and other private parties who sued on behalf of the U.S. government under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act recovered $3.4 billion of the total $3.7 billion in recoveries in 2017. In contrast, settlements and judgments from False Claims Act lawsuits filed by whistleblowers accounted for $2.9 billion of the $4.7 billion recovered in 2016 – about 61 percent.
According to the DOJ, the government paid out $392 million in 2017 to the individuals who exposed false claims and other fraud by initiating a False Claims Act complaint on behalf of the U.S.
The bulk of False Claims Act recoveries in 2017 came from the health care industry. According to the DOJ, of the $3.7 billion recovered in 2017, $2.4 billion (about 65 percent) involved claims against drug companies, hospitals, pharmacies, laboratories and physicians who targeted Medicare and other federal health care programs with false claims. Millions more were recovered for state Medicaid programs, which are jointly funded by the federal government.
In addition to combatting health care fraud, the False Claims Act also serves as the federal government’s best fraud-busting tool to recover taxpayer funds and property in a number of other areas, including defense and national security, food safety and inspection, federally insured loans and mortgages, highway funds, small business contracts, agricultural subsidies, disaster assistance, and import tariffs.
The DOJ said that 669 lawsuits were filed by whistleblowers under the False Claims Act in 2017 – an average of more than 12 new cases every week. The False Claims Act introduced significant gains for the U.S. government since the Act was strengthened in 1986 with better whistleblower incentives and protections.
“Because those who defraud the government often hide their misconduct from public view, whistleblowers are often essential to uncovering the truth,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the DOJ’s Civil Division. “The Department’s recoveries this past year continue to reflect the valuable role that private parties can play in the government’s effort to combat false claims concerning government contracts and programs.”
Are you aware of fraud being committed against the federal government, or a state government? If so, you may be protected and rewarded for doing the right thing by reporting the fraud. If you have any questions about whether you qualify as a whistleblower, please contact an attorney at Beasley Allen for a free and confidential evaluation of your claim. There is a contact form on this website, or you may email one of the lawyers on our whistleblower litigation team: Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, Lance Gould or Andrew Brashier.