Increased Government spending on the Coronavirus / COVID-19 crisis creates an increased opportunity for fraud against the taxpayer. The False Claims Act provides whistleblowers with an opportunity to report wrongdoing and fight back, rewarding whistleblowers who recover our Government’s badly needed funds.

The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act was passed on March 27, 2020, allocating an estimated $2 trillion for coronavirus / Covid-19 relief 1. Given the severity of the crisis and the lives at stake, the relief money should be spent to fulfill its intended purposes. But some will take advantage of these massive emergency spending measures to cheat the Government, the taxpayers, and intended recipients out of needed funds. If you have learned of companies, people, or municipalities that have taken CARES Act or other coronavirus relief money from the United States through false claims or fraud when they did not meet the requirements to apply for or to receive this Government money, you may have legal options. We can help you determine what those options are, including recovering wrongfully obtained CARES Act money for the Government and potentially receiving a share of the taxpayer money that is recovered.

Examples of CARES Act relief money fraud or false claims may include:

  • FEMA grants that are not used for any required purpose, such as purchase of personal protective equipment or emergency food or shelter programs;
  • Municipalities that accept coronavirus relief fund money but fail to use the money for necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health Covid-19 emergency;
  • Airlines that accept relief money and then fail to meet a requirement, such as not furloughing workers;
  • Businesses that accept loan money or apply for loan forgiveness from the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, but fail to meet a requirement, such as not using the funds to maintain workers and payroll, to make mortgage or rent payments, or utility payments;
  • Grants for healthcare providers for coronavirus related activities who then fail to use the money in manner that meets grant requirements; or
  • Any other misuse of CARES Act or other coronavirus relief funds or failure to satisfy conditions for receiving CARES Act funds.

The coronavirus public health emergency may also result in other Government fraud and abuse, such as:

  • Price gouging or otherwise failing to comply with cost and pricing requirements on Government contracts;
  • Selling the Government respirators, virus testing equipment, masks, gowns or other supplies that are defective or fail to meet contract specifications;
  • Claims for payment to Medicare, TRICARE, and for medically unnecessary drugs, tests, services, and supplies;
  • Bid rigging on Government contracts;
  • Noncompliance/false certification of compliance with country of origin requirements of the Buy American Act or Trade Agreements Act; and
  • Misuse of Government-funded research grant funds.

Helmer Martins has more than 30 years’ experience taking on some of the largest companies and biggest law firms, recovering over $1 billion for our clients. For more information, or to discuss a potential case with us, please contact us.

References

  1. Claudia Grisales, et al., Preident Trump Signs $2 Trillion Coronavirus Rescue Package Into Law, NPR (Mac. 27, 2020)