by Joe Bird
You hear about it all too often. Your neighbors tell you about schemes they heard about run by “those guys” or unnamed friends to make lots of easy money. Sometimes it a boast at a party or social event about making millions by evading taxes or calling something it is not and just submitting a few forms to the government and receiving money or tax credits. Sometimes it is just a clever and creative application of lawful ideas, but sometimes not. Sometimes it is too clever, too easy, too good to be true or legal. Witness Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi scheme.
What can you do when it seems like the scheme involves cheating or defrauding the government? Ordinarily, many people simply applaud, seeing the government as a common enemy to be fought. But think about it. If someone else is cheating the government by paying less or obtaining funds fraudulently, aren’t they forcing you to pay more or receive less by cheating?
If you think you have uncovered a scam against the government, you can help stop the fraud and help yourself by contacting a lawyer qualified in false claim actions on behalf of the government.
The legal concept of a false claims action comes from civil war days. Government supplier’s bilked the government by selling shoddy clothing and rotten food products. Abraham Lincoln knew that this practice was rampant and yet the government was unable to police it themselves. So, the false claims act was created to induce private individuals who witnessed or knew of fraud against the government to not only report it but do something about it by filing a lawsuit FOR the government. Such a lawsuit is in the name of the person taking the action who has uncovered the fraud (the relator or person who relates or informs of the fraud) and the US Government.
False claim cases are filed under seal so only the government’s attorneys can review it initially. The government has a period of time to consider taking up the case and pursuing it along with the relator as a kind of partner. If the government does not take the case, the relator can still pursue it without the government.
If successful, the relator can be awarded up to 30% of the ultimate recovery! In other words, if the government collects $1 million in overpayments the relator (whistleblower) may get up to $300,000 of that money.
Former President Harry Truman championed the private attorney general, the “Qui Tam” relator, to help clean up military contracting. Today the false claim law is used to fight all kinds of fraud against taxpayers including mortgage fraud and Medicare overbilling.
The types of fraud practiced against the government are endless. Military contractors charge more for less, using euphemisms like cost over runs. Medical product suppliers double bill for services or worse, charge for unnecessary medical procedures or services that were not even delivered. General contractors use low grade cement and charge top of the line price.
The fraud perpetrated by others ends up costing you more in taxes. So, what to do when you know about fraud against the government? Cheer? NO WAY! Take action. Call an experienced fraud lawyer.
As Chevy Chase (Ty) said to Danny when it was revealed Judge Smails was cheating in the immortal golf match in CaddyShack, “nobody likes a tattle tale, except me”, and of course the government. Just remember, letting someone cheat the government is the same as letting someone cheat you. So why not do everyone some good, including you, and at least see if something can be done. Become a private attorney general for your country. If your information is accurate, you may even get paid for your civic duty.
Attorney Joe Bird and his team of false claim act lawyers at Mahany & Ertl are joined by the federal government in one of the largest fraud cases in the country – a $2.4 billion fraud case against Allied Home Mortgage. The government says that Allied’s noncompliance with HUD regulations cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and left many people with homes they cannot afford.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine & Minneapolis, Minnesota. Legal services available in many jurisdictions.