March 18, 2013 — The U.S. Department of Education spends billions of taxpayer dollars every year to ensure that all school children in this country receive a decent education. In addition, the government funds higher education programs to provide financial assistance for students attending all types of schools, whether public or private, profit or nonprofit. Unfortunately, unscrupulous individuals and institutions sometimes defraud these educational programs by obtaining government funding for students who don’t meet the financial or academic requirements. To prevent and reduce such abuses, the Justice Department often relies on the False Claims Act. The anti-fraud statute authorizes whistleblowers to file suit on behalf of the U.S. government and collect a share of any resulting recovery.
False Claims Act Used to Target Education Fraud Contractors
A bill has been filed in the Florida State Senate to prevent criminals from operating government-funded educational tutoring programs and to track fraudulent practices engaged in by the tutoring services. Florida’s $50 million government-sponsored tutoring program receives funding from the U.S. government. It is intended to provide private tutors for underserved children attending failing schools. Education contractors who file false claims with state programs partially funded by the United States government may be civilly liable under the federal False Claims Act.
After the Tampa Bay Times reported on widespread defects in the tutoring program, Florida’s Department of Education has expressed an intent to provide better regulation to prevent fraud. Times’ reporters found that state regulators hardly ever referred instances of potential fraud to criminal investigators. The U.S. Department of Education has described the Times’ report as “serious and troubling” but has not said whether it will launch a formal inquiry into federal funding of the tutoring program.
The bill introduced in the Florida Senate would require that potential crimes of fraud in the educational tutoring program be referred for criminal investigation.
Education Fraud Schemes Revealed by Institution Insiders
Many education fraud schemes are uncovered by workers inside an educational program or institution. Before taking action, whistleblowers deserve to know their own rights. The lawyers at Waters & Kraus provide tipsters with the aggressive representation they need to prevent fraud and waste in the nation’s education system. Contact us or call our education fraud attorneys at 855.784.0268 to learn how we protect and assist government collaborators.