Defense health services contractor pays $930,000 to settle whistleblowers’ fraud claims in first cyberfraud settlement

by Ben Vernia | March 10th, 2022

On March 9, the Department of Justice announced that Florida-based Comprehensive Health Services LLC has agreed to pay $930,000 to resolve claims brought in two qui tam lawsuits that the company submitted false claims in connection with its contracts for providing health services at . According to DOJ’s press release:

Comprehensive Health Services LLC (CHS), located in Cape Canaveral, Florida, has agreed to pay $930,000 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by falsely representing to the State Department and the Air Force that it complied with contract requirements relating to the provision of medical services at State Department and Air Force facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the Department of Justice’s first resolution of a False Claims Act case involving cyber fraud since the launch of the department’s Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative, which aims to combine the department’s expertise in civil fraud enforcement, government procurement and cybersecurity to combat new and emerging cyber threats to the security of sensitive information and critical systems. 

CHS is a provider of global medical services that contracted to provide medical support services at government-run facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under one of the contracts, CHS submitted claims to the State Department for the cost of a secure electronic medical record (EMR) system to store all patients’ medical records, including the confidential identifying information of United States service members, diplomats, officials and contractors working and receiving medical care in Iraq. The United States alleged that, between 2012 and 2019, CHS failed to disclose to the State Department that it had not consistently stored patients’ medical records on a secure EMR system. When CHS staff scanned medical records for the EMR system, CHS staff saved and left scanned copies of some records on an internal network drive, which was accessible to non-clinical staff. Even after staff raised concerns about the privacy of protected medical information, CHS did not take adequate steps to store the information exclusively on the EMR system.

The State Department and Air Force contracts also required CHS to provide medical supplies, including controlled substances, that were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or European Medicines Agency (EMA) and manufactured in accordance with federal quality standards. The United States alleged that, between 2012 and 2019, CHS falsely represented to the State Department and Air Force that certain substances provided under those contracts were approved by the FDA or EMA. CHS lacked a Drug Enforcement Agency license necessary for exporting controlled substances from the United States to Iraq. CHS obtained controlled substances by having CHS physicians based in Florida send letters requesting that a South African physician prescribe the controlled substances. A South African shipping company then received controlled substances that were not approved by the FDA or EMA and sent them to CHS in Iraq, where CHS supplied the unapproved controlled substances to patients under the State Department and Air Force contracts.

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The Government has not yet announced the share the relators in the two qui tam suits will receive.

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