In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, what is now known as the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) was established. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) partnered with various law enforcement and regulatory agencies to form this national coordinating agency, operating within the Criminal Division of the DOJ. The NCDF was created “to improve and further the detection, prevention, investigation, and prosecution of fraud related to natural and man-made disasters, and to advocate for the victims of such fraud.”
Since its inception in 2005 there have been more than 70,000 complaints from over 50 natural and man-made disasters. There were 1,370 disaster fraud cases charged in connection with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
On Sept. 22, in the wake of the recent natural disasters stemming from catastrophic hurricanes, the Deputy Attorney General circulated a memorandum on disaster fraud for all U.S. Attorneys and DOJ Litigation Components. This memorandum instructs all U.S. Attorney Offices to follow certain steps to more efficiently coordinate with the NCDF in handling disaster fraud after hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The False Claims Act (FCA) protects the Government from false or fraudulent claims for payment or approval. In the case of disasters, federal emergency relief funds are established with taxpayers’ dollars. Therefore, any fraudulent claims for disaster relief funds would be in direct violation of the FCA.
The FCA includes a right of private action, known as a qui tam provision, or whistleblower provision. This allows a private person, known as a relator, to bring a civil action for violation of the FCA for the private person and the U.S. Government. The FCA does provide incentive for whistleblowers. These incentives include protection against retaliation and 15 to 25 percent of funds recovered.
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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.
31 U.S.C. § 3729-30
U.S. Department of Justice