Taxpayer Protection Bureau
In his first weeks in office, Attorney General Schneiderman announced an aggressive plan to root out fraud and return money illegally taken from New York State taxpayers and their government. As part of this plan, he established the Taxpayer Protection Bureau.
The Taxpayer Protection Bureau investigates and brings civil actions to recover for any fraud committed against New York State or New York local governments (except Medicaid fraud, which is handled by Attorney General Schneiderman’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit). Frauds investigated by the Taxpayer Protection Bureau include but are not limited to:
- large tax frauds;
- frauds involving government contracts for goods or services;
- frauds involving government grants or government-funded social programs; and
- frauds involving government investments.
Since its formation in 2011, the Taxpayer Protection Bureau has resolved investigations and cases in areas including, for example, construction services, financial services, income and sales tax evasion, medical waste management, office supplies, school food services, software and data services, and workers compensation.
The New York False Claims Act:
Empowering and Rewarding Whistleblowers
A critical tool of the Taxpayer Protection Bureau is the New York False Claims Act— a powerful law that empowers the Attorney General, local governments and private citizen “whistleblowers” to bring actions against people, businesses, and other entities that defraud New York State or local governments.
Using this 2007 law, and often working with whistleblowers, the Taxpayer Protection Bureau conducts civil investigations and prosecutes civil enforcement actions against individuals who knowingly make or use false or fraudulent claims, records, or statements to obtain or withhold money or property that belongs to the government. Critically, violators of the Act are liable for up to three times the damages incurred by the misconduct, as well as civil penalties assessed per violation.
In 2010, when he was a state senator, Attorney General Schneiderman authored a powerful enhancement of the New York False Claims Act (the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act) that expanded it by, among other things, adding the power to crack down on large-scale tax fraud schemes, expanding whistleblower protections, and closing loopholes that made it hard to prosecute corrupt subcontractors.
Whistleblowers are private citizens who have evidence of fraud committed by persons or companies against New York State or local governments. The New York False Claims Act encourages whistleblowers to come forward by protecting them from retaliation, authorizing them to bring actions on behalf of the state or local governments, and rewarding their courage by making them eligible for a share of the sums recovered as a result of the actions they file.
Whistleblowers are often represented by private lawyers who can ensure that their clients’ rights are protected. You may want to contact a private attorney to learn more about the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act.
To report fraud against New York State taxpayers, contact the office of Attorney General at 1-800-771-7755 or (212) 416-6012.