There's certainly no shortage of news involving whistleblowers these days -- brave individuals who step-up to speak out and do what's right. When a company or individual defrauds a government agency, we all lose. It deprives agency beneficiaries of their products and services and in the end, costs taxpayers a lot, too. If you have knowledge about someone or a company that's defrauded a government agency, you might be entitled to compensation. The real question you have to answer is, "do you have a qui tam whistleblower case?"
Do You have a Qui Tam Whistleblower Lawsuit?
To answer the question, you'll need to speak with a qualified attorney. But, there are examples which can help you to better understand qui tam whistleblower cases. For instance, you work for a company that's building something for the government. You learn the company is charging for work it didn't perform but is being paid by the government. Perhaps you work for a physician and discover a change of charge codes are being submitted for more expensive medical procedures that actually administered and the government is paying the practice for the upcharge procedures.
The California False Claims Act permits the Attorney General to bring a civil law enforcement action to recover treble damages and civil penalties against any person who knowingly makes or uses a false statement or document to either obtain money or property from the State or avoid paying or transmitting money or property to the State. The False Claims Unit of the Corporate Fraud Section investigates alleged violations of the Act based upon referrals from state, federal and local agencies, tips from members of the public and qui tam complaints, otherwise known as whistleblower complaints. --State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General
It could be your employer is under a government contract to provide certain services; you know the government is being billed and paying, but, said services are not ever delivered. These are examples of fraud that can be the basis for a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit. Basically, a qui tam whistleblower case is when you blow the whistle by filing a lawsuit on behalf of the government against a company or individual committing fraud. If your case qualifies, you might be entitled to compensation. Under the Federal False Claims Act, the person or company committing fraud must pay back three times the dollar amount stolen from the government, if the case is successful. As a whistleblower, you can receive between 15 and 30 percent of that total. Should you have a valid qui tam case, there are certain things you should and should not do:
- You need to speak with an attorney immediately. Like with most legal actions, qui tam whistleblower cases have what's known as a "statute of limitations." This is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after you learn about the company or individual defrauding the government. The more time passes, the less time you have to come forward.
- You'll have to wait patiently while the cause is being investigated. The investigation will take time to conduct and you'll need to be patient during the process. Though it can be difficult to wait on the sidelines, you need to wait patiently as the investigation is conducted.
- You should not speak about your case to anybody but your attorney. The old adage, "silence is golden," is very applicable to whistleblower cases. You should only speak with your attorney about the case and should not discuss it with family, friends, coworkers, or anyone else.
- You should inform your attorney if anyone else knows about the fraud. When you first speak to a lawyer about your qui tam case, you should let him or her know if there are others who are also aware of the fraud.
- You have certain legal protections against retaliation by your employer. You should know that when you file a whistleblower lawsuit, you have protection under the law from your employer or person who is committing the fraud. There are more protections and you need to talk to an attorney about these if you have any concerns.
If you know of a company or individual defrauding the government, it is essential you speak with an experienced legal professional right away. Time is not on your side and you might be entitled to compensation for doing the right thing.