Florida COVID-19 Fraud Lawyer
Abuse of Emergency Government Spending
The COVID-19 virus is inspiring new private-public relationships that will lead to a new generation of whistleblower cases under the Federal False Claims Act.
The government is injecting billions of dollars into the private sector for medical devices and necessary healthcare equipment. The private sector is now supplying everything from tests to masks and ventilators. In the massive purchase of products and services, there is not a corresponding gearing-up in oversight. Whistleblowers will be essential in documenting defective products and false billing for services or products not supplied or rendered.
The fraud will not just be limited to medical products; state and federal governments are spending billions to build temporary medical facilities, and there is no doubt that there will be fraud, waste and abuse in their construction.
To keep the economy from collapsing, the government has made grants and loans worth billions of dollars. Recipients of government funds must make truthful representations on their loan or grant applications, and they must continue to meet the requirements of the loan or grant for an extended period of time. The conditions of receipt of government funds are as detailed as the requirement that people remain neutral in a union organizing campaign; in other words, ripe for misuse.
The bottom line; COVID-19 has created a new role for whistleblowers. As always, the attorneys at Guttman, Freidin & Celler are at the forefront of representing whistleblowers and guiding them through legal processes under the False Claims Act and other relevant statutes. Call our office if you suspect COVID-19 fraud at your place of business.
How the False Claims Act Can Put a Stop to COVID-19 Fraud
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has already reported thousands of state and federal whistleblower complaints related to the government’s COVID-19 response. Meanwhile, the U.S. government’s record $2 trillion stimulus package has touched every government agency, leading the FBI and the Department of Justice to experience a rise in the number and type of fraud schemes related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you believe that the company you work for is illegally obtaining stimulus money or misusing the funds it obtained for illicit purposes, you can report this fraudulent conduct under the federal False Claims Act (FCA). After providing information to the appropriate government agency, either the agency will pursue civil litigation against the wrongdoer, or you could pursue litigation yourself on behalf of the federal government. Either way, you can receive a portion of any funds recovered, as much as 30% as a reward for your courage and participation in shining the light on fraud and bringing wrongdoers to justice.
If the government finds that a business fraudulently obtained stimulus money, the agency could require the business to pay back three times the amount it unlawfully stole, so the amount of a whistleblower award can be quite high.
Whistleblowers Are Protected From Retaliation
Company employees may be rightfully concerned about backlash at work for reporting COVID-19 fraud at their place of employment. Know that as a government whistleblower, you are protected from retaliation for blowing the whistle on COVID-19 fraud when you had a good faith, reasonable belief that fraud was occurring. This protection means you cannot be fired, blacklisted, given negative performance reviews, transferred, assigned unpleasant tasks, denied tenure, or otherwise harassed due to filing a whistleblower complaint or participating in a fraud investigation.
In addition to this strong legal protection from retaliation, your FCA claim can also be filed under seal while the government investigates the matter, shielding you from notice. If you are unlawfully retaliated against, you can sue to get your job back or receive money damages for the harm done, and your employer can even be ordered to pay your attorneys’ fees.
COVID-19 Government Program Fraud & The False Claims Act
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our personal lives and upended operations at every level of government and society. Most of us have risen to the challenge and proven we can be our better selves to help each other through these unprecedented times. A few others, unfortunately, see this as a time to take advantage and cheat people and the government. If you are aware of COVID-19 fraud at your place of employment or elsewhere in the state of Florida, call Guttman, Freidin & Celler at 800-654-8281 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a dedicated and successful Florida COVID-19 fraud lawyer.