Facts and Statistics Regarding Fraudulent Acts Against the Government
About $3.5 billion was obtained by the United States Department of Justice in 2015 for successfully settling or litigating cases that involved fraud against the government. More than half of this amount was obtained from individuals or companies involved in the health care industry either for providing unnecessary or inadequate medical care, for overcharging for products and services that were paid for by federal health care programs, or for bribing health care providers into using certain products and services. About a third of the $3.5 billion was obtained from those involved in fraudulent government contract activity.
When the government seeks remedies from fraudulent offenders, it usually does so under the False Claims Act. Fraudulent activity of all kinds is covered by the Act, including government contract fraud, health care fraud, highway fund fraud, mortgage and loan fraud, fraud related to disaster assistance, and fraud related to agricultural programs and research grants. The Act was strengthened in 1986 to incentivize further witnesses of government wrongdoing, also known as whistleblowers or relators, to come forward and file a lawsuit on the government’s behalf.
When false claims are filed under the Act, the Act’s whistleblower provisions are what allow individuals who witness wrongdoing to file lawsuits on the government’s behalf. Whistleblower lawsuits are referred to as qui tam actions, and if the government is successful in the lawsuit, the whistleblower can receive as much as thirty percent of the government’s recovery. There were 638 qui tam actions filed on the government’s behalf in 2015.