Do You Suspect Government Fraud in the Workplace?
Fraud comes in more than one type, and some of it is focused on receiving government funds that are not merited. While honest mistakes can be mad with no attempt to trick anyone, government fraud is all about intent. The act involves choosing deliberate actions with the goal of obtaining funds my means of deception, or by retaining funds that should rightfully be remitted to the government.
Fraud of this type can take on a number of forms. Some examples include:
- Falsifying Tax Information. This could be in the form of withholding income from employees under the guise of collecting taxes. Instead, the collected funds end up in the pockets of the the person or persons managing the payroll.
- Procurement and Contractor Scams. This strategy involves setting up a dummy company and staffing it with employees who do not exist. The dummy company enters into agreements with contractors who also do not exist. All the while, exemptions and deductions are taken to reduce the taxes due and result in a refund.
- Health care Fraud. In this scenario, charges for services never rendered are filed on behalf of individuals covered under Medicare or Medicaid. The covered party never knows what is happening, since the claims are remitted directly to government agencies. Once the claims are honored and the payments issued, the claims and the money disappear from the official company accounting records.
With these and other forms of government workplace fraud, the tax payer is the one who ultimately suffers. Fraud means money that could be allocated for defense, improving the infrastructure, and providing a wider range of government sponsored services to less fortunate citizens is no longer there. The result is a cutback in government provided benefits. Far from impacting the individual alone, the lack of these resources harms the stability of communities and increases the potential for businesses not engaged in fraud to fail.
Some Facts About Government Workplace Fraud
In fiscal year 2013, as per a Department of Justice release, the agency reported a staggering haul of $3.8 billion under the federal False Claims Act (FCA). Whistleblowers – those exposing fraud and corruption in the workplace – were handsomely rewarded for their acts of courage, as they netted a reported $345 million during FY 2013.
Under the stipulations of the FCA, individuals or companies involved in fraudulent activity pay:
- Two or three times the amount they fraudulently obtained, or attempted to fraudulently obtain;
- Fines ranging from $5,000 to $11,000 for each claim deemed fraudulent by the DOJ, and
- The government litigation and investigation costs
Per government reports, the Department has recovered in excess of three billion dollars annually from the FCA since 2009 and returned the money to its rightful owners – the American tax payers. Hence, this is an initiative they plan to enforce with full force. The importance; however, hinges on brave whistleblowers. Recent legislation passed by Congress, such as the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act in 2009 and the Affordable Care Act in 2010, protect the welfare of whistleblowers of fraudulent claims. The New Mexico Protection Act and the Fraud Against Taxpayer Act provider further protection for brave citizens who stand up to this abuse.
Protecting Those Who Report Fraud
Due to the sensitive nature of this matter, we take every precaution to maintain your confidentiality. Along with our efforts, we urge people who become aware of the fraud to take the following actions:
- No communications from the workplace. We advise you NOT to contact our office from your workplace, as your employer might be able to trace or monitor your actions. That includes phone calls as well as electronic communications. Complete our “Quick Case Review” and receive a FREE case evaluation from our legal team.
- Make notes the old-fashioned way. That means jotting down dates, names, and activities on paper and slipping it in the wallet or purse. Avoid using any computer to create a document detailing the suspected fraud. Even if you pull up a blank document, type out the info, print out a hard copy, and then delete the document, there could still be an electronic trail.
- Don’t share your intentions with other employees. There is no way to know who is involved in the fraud and who isn’t. The best move is to relay the information to experts and let them ask questions when the time comes.
All communication – whether via the telephone or a personal conference – whistleblowers’ identities and information will be kept strictly private.
If you have experienced or witnessed any fraudulent activity in your workplace, you may be able to receive compensation.