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I represent whistleblowers who file qui tam lawsuits, which means they
sue on behalf of the Government to recover for money fraudulently taken
from the Government. Most of these suits are brought under the False Claims
Act (FCA), although there are a variety of statutes that address whistleblowing.
Under the FCA, the whistleblower (known as a relator) is entitled to recover
a percentage of what the Government recovers because of the efforts of
the whistleblower.

Recently I attended a
Taxpayers Against Fraud conference in Washington, D.C., and I already have written three full
entries about a discussion we had in one of the sessions on the variety
of ways that people use to defraud the Government.

I could probably fill all of my blog entries with lists of the ways that
people have thought of to defraud the Government. As soon as the Government
figures out one type of fraud and how to stop it, creative fraudsters
come up with yet new ways to cheat the Government out of our taxpayer
dollars. In the interest of moving along to other topics, however, I am
going to wind up this series of blog entries today by discussing the last
few issues we discussed during the conference session.

* Submitting a claim for payment based on an interpretation of a regulation
or a contract when the Defendant knows perfectly well that the Government
has interpreted the provision differently. An example of this type of
fraud might be a situation in which a government contractor learns that
the Government has told a competitor that it cannot submit claims for
payment for the time its employees spend at lunch. Nonetheless, the first
contractor continues to bill for the time its employees spend at lunch.

* Keeping Government funds that the Defendant knows it should not have
been paid. This type of fraud is known as a reverse false claim, because
the assumption is that the Defendant did not do anything to make the Government
pay the money. However, when the Government did pay, the Defendant knew
or discovered that it should never have gotten the money, and yet it decided
to keep the money anyway. For example, a hospital may discover that Medicare
has double paid the hospital for all of the anesthesia supplies used during
the months of September and October. The hospital did not do anything
wrong to receive the double payment, but as soon as it learned that the
double payment had been made, it had a duty to return the money to the
Government. If the hospital hangs on to the money, then it has committed
a False Claims Act violation. Of course, this type of fraud also could
be committed by a defense contractor or a highway paving company, or any
company or individual that discovers it has been overpaid by the Government
and simply chooses not to return the money.

Ultimately, people can come up with an infinite number of ways to cheat
the Government out of the money that you and I, as taxpayers, have given
it. As a whistleblower lawyer, I have had potential relators describe
an absolutely astonishing array of fraud schemes stemming from every possible
area that affects the Government and our taxpayer dollars. In the last
four blog entries, I have chronicled more than a dozen of the ways that
people have tried to cheat the Government, but please remember that this
list just covered the general types that we discussed at one session of
the conference!


Lee’s peers have named her a Georgia SuperLawyer every year for two decades.