Fraud in the State of Georgia, like any other state in the US, is an unfortunate reality of the modern day economy. It can take many forms and occur in any industry, such as in the healthcare industry and those that rely heavily on government contracts, like defense, construction, agriculture, and disaster relief.
One way the federal government attempts to put a stop to fraud is by encouraging and rewarding whistleblowers to report and take legal action when they know of or have witnesses fraud. Since the government cannot catch every instance of fraud, it relies on industry experts like yourself to know when fraudulent activity is happening.
If you believe your boss or company is guilty of fraud, it might be time to blow the whistle. There is, however, much to consider before doing so. You may want to get in touch with a Georgia whistleblower lawyer to see if you have a viable case.
Common Georgia Whistleblower Cases
The first thing to consider when deciding whether to become a whistleblower is the fraudulent activity itself. While there are many different types of fraud, some are more common than others. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a quick glimpse at some of the most common types of fraud in Georgia whistleblower cases:
- Overcharging or upcoding: This type of fraud can happen in the healthcare industry when a doctor or other healthcare professional charges for a higher treatment or procedure when a less expensive procedure was actually performed. In other industries, it might take the form of charging for more expensive, superior materials but using cheaper, inferior materials to complete a job.
- Double billing: Billing the government twice for a procedure or treatment.
- False claims: This is a broad category of fraud that typically refers to when a fraudster submits bills for work or services that were never performed or rendered. In November of 2021, a Georgia-based health agency that offers in-home health services had to pay over $4 million as part of a False Claims Act settlement. The company billed Medicare and Medicaid for services that were not covered and never returned overpayment sent by the government programs.
- Kickbacks: It is illegal to receive a kickback in the form of money or other benefit for prescribing a particular medication or referring patients to a particular facility.
- Performing unnecessary work: In the healthcare industry, this type of fraud can be particularly dangerous, as it means healthcare professionals are performing unnecessary surgeries or other treatments in order to increase their reimbursements from the government.
These examples highlight the most common types of whistleblower cases in Georgia and around the country. If you have witnessed any of the above, or another type of fraud, it might be time for you to join the ranks of whistleblowers who are fighting to end fraud.
Contact a Georgia whistleblower attorney today to begin your journey as a whistleblower. At Tycko & Zavareei LLP, we offer a free and confidential case evaluation, so you can consider your next steps risk-free.
Georgia Whistleblower Law
Like other states, Georgia is subject to the False Claims Act (FCA), which is designed to encourage employees to blow the whistle on fraud. The FCA empowers and incentivizes employees to sue their company on behalf of the federal government. These cases are known as “qui tam” cases. Specifically, the FCA promises an award of between 15 and 30 percent of the total recovered funds to brave whistleblowers who come forward with evidence of fraud and even protects them from employer retaliation.
Modeled after the federal FCA, the State of Georgia has its own laws and procedures governing qui tam cases that offer similar rewards and protections to whistleblowers. To see which laws apply in your Georgia whistleblower case, contact an experienced lawyer today.
Protections for Georgia Whistleblowers
Both the federal and Georgia state FCAs have provisions offering protection for whistleblowers. When an employee learns of fraud taking place within their company, the fear of retaliation can deter them from blowing the whistle.
To help fight against that fear and encourage employees to report fraud, the FCA protects a whistleblowers against the following forms of employer retaliation:
- Reduced pay or hours
This means that your employer cannot take any of the above disciplinary actions against you for blowing the whistle on fraud. An employer who does engage in retaliation may be subject to additional claims for damages, such as double back pay, attorneys’ fees, and reinstatement in the case of wrongful termination.
Financial Reward for Georgia Whistleblowers
The other key provision of federal and Georgia state whistleblower laws is the opportunity for whistleblowers to receive compensation should their case be successful and the government recover money stolen via fraud.
In the case of the federal False Claims Act, a whistleblower is eligible to receive 15-30 percent of the funds recovered by the government. This amount can grow to be rather substantial, especially in cases of fraud committed in the healthcare and defense industries.
In a successful Georgia False Claims Act case, a whistleblower can expect to receive between 15 and 25 percent of recovered funds if the state Attorney General joins the case, or between 25 and 30 percent if the AG does not join the case.
How a Georgia Whistleblower Attorney Can Help
This first thing to do when you suspect fraud is to get in touch with an experienced Georgia whistleblower lawyer. A good whistleblower attorney will know how to strengthen your case to get the government involved and make sure you get the protection you deserve.
At Tycko & Zavareei LLP, we have filed whistleblower cases like yours all over the country. We know how to evaluate cases and how to proceed effectively when we believe we see a strong case. From gathering evidence, to filing on time and arguing your case before either a state or federal judge, we will give your case the utmost care from beginning to end.