Florida Accreditation Fraud Lawyer
The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) pays out more than $150 billion in federal student aid every year, but the arrangement does not just impose obligations upon the student receiving the funds. Any higher learning institution that receives amounts toward tuition, housing, or other expenses must be properly accredited to ensure consistency and quality in education. When an institution fails to maintain these requirements and makes false representations regarding its status, this misconduct may amount to accreditation fraud.
Ultimately, the price of fraud is borne by taxpayers, so the federal government has implemented a strategy for exposing accreditation scams. The Federal False Claims Act (FCA) encourages individuals to come forward with information about misconduct, and the benefits can be lucrative. Please contact Guttman, Freidin & Celler to schedule a free case review with a Florida education fraud lawyer who can explain FCA in more detail. A summary of accreditation fraud may also be informative.
Common Accreditation Scams
The whole point behind accreditation requirements is to make sure students receive acceptable value for the amounts they expend toward an education, degree, or credentials. The DOE does not handle accreditation, but it does establish standards with which accrediting agencies are required to comply. As long as an institution remains in good standing as far as accreditation, it can continue to receive federal student aid funds.
Without a system of controls in place, institutions of higher learning could operate as “diploma mills,” distributing certificates to anyone willing to pay the price. Another scheme is issuing fraudulent degrees to students that did not complete the required curriculum to earn them. In either of these scenarios, the institution continues to receive federal funds without upholding its end of the bargain to ensure students receive a quality education.
FCA Provides Legal Options for Whistleblowers
The U.S. government cannot be everywhere to investigate and expose fraud, so FCA steps in to empower private citizens to take on misconduct. The statute creates a whistleblower or qui tam cause of action, where a person with knowledge can sue the institution for accreditation fraud. In exchange for your efforts, FCA allows you a share of the amount ultimately recovered from the defendant. Often, accreditation schemes encompass numerous counts of fraud, so the damages add up quickly.
Your compensation in a qui tam case depends upon whether the government opts to join the lawsuit:
- If officials decide to intervene and pursue the defendant for accreditation fraud, you may qualify for 15 to 25 percent of the total fund.
- Where the government does not join the case, you will proceed as the sole whistleblower. You could receive up to 30 percent of the award.
Discuss Your Remedies with Our South Florida Education Fraud Attorneys
While this overview may help you understand the basics about qui tam lawsuits under FCA, there are numerous complexities involved in a real-life case. To ensure you receive the compensation you deserve as a relator, please contact Guttman, Freidin & Celler right away. You can set up a no-cost consultation with a member of our team by calling our Miami offices at 800.654.8281 or through our website.