Nation/World

Whistleblowers Cashing In

Citizens who take the law into their own hands have collected $184.5 million for themselves and the Justice Department has surpassed $1 billion in fines collected in civil fraud cases brought by whistleblowers.

Whistleblowers also have won $15.6 million in settlements in cases the government refused to join.

A 1986 law lets Americans file lawsuits on behalf of the U.S. government in cases where a person or company has falsely billed Uncle Sam.

If the government takes over the case and wins, the whistleblower gets 15 percent to 25 percent of the settlement - sometimes millions of dollars.

Most of the lawsuits involve defense and health care fraud, with companies overcharging the government in military and Medicare contracts.

“The recovery of over $1 billion demonstrates that the publicprivate partnership encouraged by the statute works and is an effective tool in our continuing fight against fraudulent use of public funds,” said Frank Hunger, an assistant attorney general.



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