Many federal government agencies include “Buy America” clauses in contracts. If there is a Buy America Act clause in a government contract, it’s fraud to supply overseas goods under the government contract. In other words, unless the Buy America clause is waived by the agency for a particular contract and reason, these clauses are enforceable and the government pays whistleblower rewards to those who report when goods are made overseas.
Buy America Act fraud is not limited to the countries that won’t sign the Trade Agreement Act, but applies to all things made overseas in any country. It applies to all types of goods, such as electronics, office supplies, furniture, computers, and anything else bought by the government. (Trade Agreement Act fraud is described in another article by this author.)
Examples of “Buy America Act” Fraud
Recently a competitor turned in a company that was undercutting its bid on government contracts. If found out the reason; they were obtaining their electronics overseas. That’s not fair competition and hurts U.S. manufacturers. He filed for a reward for reporting Buy America fraud. The government agreed. It required the company to pay the U.S. $500,000 and gave the whistleblower a reward of $160,000 reward for turning in company for supplying government with goods made in China. It wasn’t that hard for the competitor to figure it out, because the electronics were stamped made in China. He was able to easily prove the fraud and not only stop the competitor from cheating, but got a nice reward.
At least two large chain companies that sell office supplies have also been forced to repaid $5 million to the government for committing Buy America fraud. The whistleblowers received rewards of $1 million each for reporting Buy America Act fraud.
How to Report Buy American Fraud
It’s downright un-American to cheat by committing Buy America Act fraud. That’s why the U.S. Department of Justice is offering huge monetary rewards for reporting Buy America Act fraud.
The government will pay up to 25% of what it recovers based upon your report of Buy America Act fraud. That often amounts to a million dollar reward.
However, knowing how to report Buy America Act fraud is just as important as knowing about Buy America Act fraud. One requirement is that you must use an attorney to file for a monetary reward under the federal False Claims Act. You must also follow the government’s strict procedures for applying for a government reward. You cannot simply call a hotline, but must file specific filings in federal court. That’s why you need to use an attorney experienced with the False Claims Act to file for you. (Don’t worry, they’ll use a contingency fee and accept a portion of the reward as payment.) It certainly can be worth the effort because you can help protect American businesses while at the same time getting a significant monetary reward.
If you work for a company that has a Buy America Act clause in a federal government contract, but you know that it secretly supplies goods from overseas, you may be eligible for a significant monetary reward if you report the Buy America Act fraud. Similarly, if you are a competitor and have specific proof that they are cheating by supplying overseas goods for contracts you know contain a Buy America Act clause, you too could get a reward and level the playing field.
It’s time for you to learn how to report Buy America Act fraud and how to step forward.