Credit card giant Providian and Total System Services pay $6 million to settle qui tam lawsuit
Whistleblower case alleged Providian cheated government
out of millions in postage
Sept. 19, 2005 -- Providian Financial Corp., one of the nation's largest credit card issuers, and Total System Services Inc., a processor of credit card payments, have agreed to pay the government $6 million to settle a
whistleblower lawsuit that alleged the companies defrauded the U.S. Postal Service.
From 1997 to 2001, the "qui tam" (whistleblower) lawsuit said, Total System Services used a discount postal rate for monthly credit card bills and other materials it mailed on Providian's behalf. Both Total System Services and Providian knew Providian didn't meet the requirements for the discount postal rate, the qui tam lawsuit said. To get that rate, Total System
Services regularly submitted for Providian postal forms with false information, according to the whistleblower and the government.
"Total System Services mailed millions of bills for Providian each month, so the postal service lost millions as a result of this fraud," said Mary A.
Inman, a San Francisco attorney with Phillips & Cohen LLP, which represents the whistleblower in the qui tam case.
A Providian employee filed the qui tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act in 2003 in federal district court in San Francisco. The Department of Justice intervened in the lawsuit. The U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco led the department's litigation and settlement efforts.
The False Claims Act allows private citizens to sue companies that are defrauding the federal government and recover funds on the government's behalf. Whistleblowers are entitled under the law to a reward of 15 percent
to 25 percent of the amount the government recovers as a result of their qui tam lawsuits. In this case, the whistleblower will be rewarded with 20 percent of the recovery for his work and that of his attorneys at Phillips & Cohen.
Providian is based in San Francisco. Total Systems Service, the nation's second largest processor of credit card payments in the U.S., has headquarters in Columbus, GA.
Phillips & Cohen LLP represents whistleblowers nationwide. It is the most successful law firm in the qui tam field. The federal government has recovered more than $2 billion as a result of qui tam lawsuits filed under the False Claims Act by Phillips & Cohen on behalf of whistleblowers.