The federal False Claims Act empowers whistleblowers to sue anyone committing fraud against the government. Successful whistleblowers can also earn a share of the money the government recovers from these suits. En Español.
Since the amendments that re-established the federal law in 1986, many states have enacted similar laws. As a result, whistleblowers have filed thousands of qui tam cases and have helped federal and state governments obtain more than $40 billion in damages, civil fines, and criminal penalties. Whistleblowers have won substantial payments. If you are looking for more of what to expect as a whistleblower, a DC whistleblower attorney is essential help. An experienced defense attorney will be able to advise you moving forward in the whistleblower process.
For more whistleblower information:
- What is Qui Tam?
- Qui Tam and Healthcare Fraud
- Qui Tam and Whistleblower FAQs
- Examples of Whistleblowers
Commonly reported false claims include companies overcharging the government, contractors charging twice for the same product or service, charging for non-existent products or services, creating false reports or certifications of product quality, failing to ensure products meet pre-stated requirements.
As a result of government funding of medical care, Medicare and Medicaid fraud is a major area of litigation under both federal and state False Claims Acts.
Generally, filing a false claims suit requires an individual to have inside knowledge of fraudulent behavior, so successful whistleblowers are usually employees of the companies engaged in fraud. If found guilty under the False Claims Act, a defendant company will be liable to pay the federal government three times the amount of damages created by the fraud and civil penalties of $5,500 to $11,000 per violation. In some cases, the defendant may also be subject to criminal fines.
What to Expect
Under the federal False Claims Act, a whistleblower is entitled to compensation of from fifteen to thirty percent (15-30%) of the amount the government recovers in damages and civil fines.
At first, the case is filed in court “under seal” to allow the government to investigate the allegations confidentially. During the government’s investigation, the case is kept sealed from the public and the identity of the whistleblower is generally protected. The whistleblower also has the burden of not revealing any details about the case to the public.
The facts the whistleblower knows can only be shared with their own lawyer and, through such a lawyer, with the government.
The law includes additional provisions to benefit the whistleblower. Employees who face harassment or are fired as a result of complaining about the fraudulent practices are entitled to relief. That relief includes reinstatement, double back-pay, and compensation for any costs and damages. Of course, the actual amount of money the whistleblower may obtain as a result of filing a claim under this section of the act is dependent on many factors and may be the subject of litigation or settlement.
Contacting an Attorney
If you believe that a person or organization that you are associated with is defrauding the government, contacting an attorney to discuss your legal options should be your next move.
A lawyer can prepare your case and most importantly can fully advise you of your rights under the law. A lawyer will help you make an informed decision as to how to proceed and to keep your information confidential.
False Claims Act cases are typically handled on a contingent-fee basis, which means that there is little cost up front to the client when discussing a case or working with an attorney. Instead, the attorney is usually compensated through a share of the successful recovery.
The statute of limitations is generally six years to sue for fraud against the government and usually three years for retaliation against the whistleblower. However, to prevent multiple recoveries, the first person who files a case regarding a particular fraudulent scheme is usually the only one who is allowed to obtain a recovery. Therefore, it makes sense to contact a qui tam whistleblower attorney and find out if your case is feasible sooner rather than later.