In 2017, the U.S. spent over $527 billion in research and development. R&D is an area in which fraudulent and false claims can occur frequently — even among some of the most prestigious academic and private research facilities and universities. Some forms of fraud include:

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Conflicts of interest
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Falsifying applications
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Falsifying data and results, reports,
and other documentation
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Failing to comply with safety
and other regulations
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Falsifying purchase orders
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Using grant money for unrelated
research or personal expenses
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Overcharging

Examples

In 2019, Duke University agreed to pay the government $112.5 million to resolve allegations that between 2006 and 2018, Duke knowingly submitted claims to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that contained falsified or fabricated data or statements in 30 grants. This caused the NIH and EPA to pay out millions of dollars in grant money they otherwise would not have. The lawsuit was brought by a Duke lab analyst under the qui tam whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. He was subsequently awarded $33.7 million for coming forward with information that resulted in a successful claim.

In 2016, for example, Northwestern University agreed to pay nearly $3 million to settle claims of cancer research grant fraud by a former researcher and physician at the university's Center for Cancer in Chicago. The Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged that Northwestern submitted false claims to National Institutes of Health (NIH) for costs that a doctor incurred on his grant-funded research projects. The doctor allegedly used grant money for family trips, meals, and hotels for himself and friends, and consulting fees for unqualified friends and family members, including his brother and cousin. Northwestern also allegedly improperly subcontracted with various universities for services that were paid for by the NIH grants.

In 2016, Columbia University was ordered to pay $9.5 million for allegations that the school obtained excessive cost recoveries in connection with a research grant from 2003 through 2015. The school allegedly applied its on-campus cost rate — instead of the much lower off-campus cost rate — when seeking federal reimbursement for 423 NIH grants where the research was primarily performed at off-campus facilities. It was further alleged that Columbia failed to disclose to NIH that it did not own or operate these facilities and that Columbia did not pay for the space during most of that period.

NC Whistleblower Attorneys. Want to Talk?

With hundreds of billions of R&D dollars at stake, it can be very difficult to monitor improprieties among researchers who attempt to steal government funds. That is why the government relies on courageous whistleblowers to try to help stem the rising tide of fraud. While it is the whistleblower who initiates 80% of fraud that is exposed, the vast majority of it goes undetected.

If you suspect fraud against the federal or state government, let's talk. We are here to help put you at ease as we try to help you determine — confidentially and discretely — if you should move forward with a whistleblower/qui tam claim. We appreciate the struggle you may be facing. That is why we have a You-First policy in place. We will try to help protect you regardless of your involvement.

Contact us or call 1-844-520-2889.

If we decide to take your case and you don't get a reward for reporting fraud, you owe us nothing.

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