DOJ Charges Nearly Two Dozen In $150 Million COVID Fraud Schemes
According to a report from the Associated Press (AP), the Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced COVID-19 related fraud charges against 21 individuals in several different alleged fraud schemes. In its official press release, the DOJ emphasized that the crackdown occurred as part of a coordinated enforcement action. Here, our Florida COVID-19 fraud attorneys discuss the recent charges filed by the DOJ and explain your options if you are considering disclosing COVID-19 fraud.
COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Action: Business Owners, Executives, Doctors, and Marketers
In a sweeping enforcement action, the DOJ has confirmed COVID-19 against 21 defendants in several states, including in Florida. The charges in question are related to various health care billing fraud schemes that allegedly exploited the COVID-19 pandemic. Charges were filed against a number of different defendants, such as medical industry business owners, company executives, physicians, marketing professionals, and manufacturers. The COVID-19 fraud schemes include:
- Claiming of federal relief funds that were not actually due;
- Billing for medically unnecessary diagnostic tests;
- Prohibited kickback schemes;
- Fraudulent billing for telemedicine services;
- Misappropriation of CARES Act funds; and
- Producing and selling fake vaccination record cards.
Whistleblowers May Be Entitled to Compensation for Reporting COVID-19 Fraud
The most recent round of charges filed by the DOJ are just the latest examples of COVID-19 related fraud. Unfortunately, it is a pervasive problem. The federal government relies largely on the contributions of whistleblowers to help bring fraud to the light. The federal False Claims Act provides important legal protections and legal rights to whistleblowers, including:
- Ability to Sue on Behalf of the Government: Under the False Claims Act, an individual or group of individuals can file a lawsuit on behalf of the government. This type of lawsuit is called a qui tam claim. If you believe that the government (or a government agency) is being defrauded, you can file a civil lawsuit against the responsible.
- Right to Compensation If Money is Recovered: To help incentivize whistleblowers to take action against COVID-19 fraud and other types of fraud, the False Claims Act entitles whistleblowers to a portion of the recovery by the government. A qui tam whistleblower may be granted an award worth between 10 percent and 30 percent of the government’s total recovery.
- Protection Against Retaliation By Employers: Many qui tam whistleblower lawyers are filed by employees. It is insider employees who often discover fraud and bring it to light. The False Claims Act prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who blow the whistle on COVID-19 fraud or any other type of fraud.
Get Help From a COVID-19 Fraud Whistleblower Protection Attorney in Florida
At Guttman, Freidin & Celler, our Florida whistleblower rights attorneys have more than a century of combined legal experience. If you are preparing to disclose COVID-19 fraud to authorities, our legal team can help. Contact us now for your no cost, no commitment initial appointment with an attorney. We represent whistleblowers in COVID-19 fraud claims in Florida and nationwide.