Florida Education Fraud Lawyer
Whistleblowers play a crucial role in exposing illegal, unethical, and fraudulent activities in education. However, the fear of retaliation and financial hardships can discourage employees from blowing the whistle and exposing fraud. But you don’t have to go through this alone. Despite the challenges, there are rewards and laws designed to protect whistleblowers reporting fraud.
Yormak Employment & Disability Law has a proven track record of successfully helping whistleblowers in Florida. With years of experience handling fraud cases and providing comprehensive legal guidance to whistleblowers, our lead attorney, Benjamin Yormak, is a board-certified expert in employment law. If you suspect fraud and need legal advice, don’t hesitate. Contact us for a free consultation.
Common Forms of Education Fraud
Federal Student Aid, an Office of the U.S. Department of Education, provides financial assistance for eligible students to cover college or career school expenses. Aid can come in various forms, such as grants, work-study funds, and low-interest loans. Unfortunately, institutions may exploit these programs by providing false information or misusing funds. Here are some examples of fraud:
False enrollment: Some institutions inflate their enrollment numbers to receive more federal funding than they are entitled to. They may report ghost students who don’t exist or aren’t attending classes, or even enroll unqualified students who don’t meet admission criteria to gain federal funding.
Fraudulent recruitment practices: Involves misleading potential students to secure their enrollment and the associated federal student aid. Institutions that receive federal aid are prohibited from rewarding recruiters for enrolling as many students as possible, regardless of whether those students are likely to succeed in the program, since specific criteria in the Higher Education Act need to be met for institutions to receive federal aid funds.
Online education fraud: Some institutions offer online courses with promises of accreditation and quality education but fail to deliver on these promises. In some cases, these “diploma mills” provide degrees for a fee without requiring substantial coursework and falsify their own accreditation to qualify for federal financial aid.
For-profit college fraud: For-profit colleges have been scrutinized lately for fraud. They often lure students by falsifying job placement data and securing federal student aid funds. Students end up with heavy student loans and degrees with little value in the job market.
Grant fraud: Grant fraud involves the misuse of funds provided by federal, state, or private entities for educational purposes. Institutions may lie about the use of these funds, diverting them for personal gain or unauthorized expenses. They may also falsify grant applications to secure more funding, exaggerating their needs or fabricating research projects.
Reporting Education Fraud Under the False Claims Act
The False Claims Act (FCA) is a powerful tool in the fight against education fraud. It holds individuals and institutions accountable for defrauding governmental programs. In the context of education, this typically involves fraudulent activities that misappropriate federal student aid funds.
Under the FCA, it is illegal to knowingly submit false claims to the government for payment or approval. Institutions involved in education fraud often violate the FCA by falsely stating their compliance with specific regulations to qualify for federal funding.
The FCA allows private citizens, known as whistleblowers, to file lawsuits on behalf of the government against those who have committed fraud. Whistleblowers who come forward with information might be eligible for a portion of governmental recoveries.
Qui Tam Lawsuits and Rewards
A Qui Tam Lawsuit is a legal action in which a private citizen files a claim on behalf of the federal government and may be eligible to receive a portion of the recovered funds as a reward. Depending on the success of the lawsuit and whether the government joins the action, whistleblowers could be entitled to up to 30% percent of the award. An employment attorney can help you understand the documentation and deadlines to qualify for a Qui Tam Lawsuit.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
If you have witnessed education fraud in Florida, seeking legal advice from an expert is crucial. Benjamin Yormak is a reputable Florida lawyer who has handled numerous fraud cases, using his extensive experience in the field to protect the rights of whistleblowers. Our team is committed to providing comprehensive legal guidance and support throughout the process. Schedule a free consultation today.