If you have evidence someone is defrauding the government, you should strongly consider talking with an attorney about becoming a whistleblower. Becoming a whistleblower is the right thing to do so you can prevent the unlawful theft of taxpayer money. You could also be financially rewarded substantially for bringing corruption and fraud to light.
Many people don't understand the protections in place for whistleblowers or the incentives in place to encourage people to come forward and help the government to uncover fraud. Here are five key facts to be aware of to help you make the decision about whether to talk with an attorney and come forward to share evidence of wrongdoing.
Five facts you should know about whistleblowing include the following:
- The False Claims Act is a law which serves as the government's primary tool for combating fraud against government programs. It allows civil claims to recover damages and it makes people and companies liable for fraud. The act was originally called the Lincoln Law and was implemented to try to stop war profiteering during the civil war.
- The False Claims Act includes qui tam provisions which allows claims to be made by private individuals against companies who are defrauding the government. Qui tam means "in the name of the king." Because of qui tam provisions, individual whistleblowers who have reason to suspect fraud against government programs have incentive to come forward and can follow an orderly process for doing so.
- There is a First to File rule in the False Claims Act. This Act stipulates no subsequent claims can be filed which are based on the same facts as a pre-existing case which has been filed already. In other words, if you identify fraud occurring but someone else has already filed a qui tam lawsuit based on the fraud against the government, you can't make your own claim.
- Those who file qui tam cases get to recover a portion of the money the government gets back. However, if you were involved in helping to perpetrate the fraud, the reward you get for bringing a successful qui tam case is significantly reduced.
- Qui tam cases have helped the government to recover billions of dollars. Many of the cases arise in connection with Medicaid and Medicare fraud. Last year "the government was able to recover over $3 billion in health care fraud judgments to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and whistleblowers who made the cases possible," according to The Regulatory Review.
If you decide you want to file a qui tam case under the false claims act, this is not something you should try to do on your own. You should talk with a experienced attorney about how to bring a claim against a company defrauding the government so you can follow the right approach and protect your potential right to receive compensation for bringing the fraud to light.