Every year, federal and state governments spend billions of dollars on social safety net programs that help the impoverished. Many of these programs, such as food stamps, temporary assistance to needy families, and welfare-to-work programs, are administered by private companies on behalf of the government. Given this fact, whistleblowers are in a unique position to ensure that they’re acting as responsible stewards of taxpayer money.
Unfortunately, just as with healthcare, defense, and other big-ticket government spending, unscrupulous contractors in the social safety net space have been accused of fraud against the government. In some of these cases, whistleblowers have brought qui tam lawsuits under the False Claims Act, a law that lets private individuals file claims alleging fraud against the government.
In cases under the False Claims Act, whistleblowers are eligible for rewards of between 15-30% of the proceeds.
In one example dealing with the social safety net, a whistleblower alleged that Maximus, Inc.’s employees caused the District of Columbia’s Child and Family Services Agency to submit false Medicaid claims for case management services for foster children, regardless of whether or not those services had actually been provided. The suit ultimately recovered more than $40 million for the government, and the whistleblower received almost $5 million.
Fraud in the public sector takes many forms, and whistleblowers are essential to rooting it out and ensuring the continued integrity of these programs. Company insiders who spot wrongdoing can be particularly important in these types of cases, though a whistleblower does not have to be an insider to bring a claim under the False Claims Act.
Alleging fraud is a serious matter that requires careful consideration—but speaking up is often the right thing to do. Everyone’s situation is different, and the risks and rewards of a potential whistleblower lawsuit must be weighed carefully considered. If you’ve seen fraud at your company and are considering speaking up, you can contact the attorneys in Outten & Golden’s Whistleblower & Retaliation Practice Group to learn more about your potential options