How Can Whistleblowers Help the Government Fight Fraud?

Fraud costs taxpayers billions of dollars every year at every level of government.  Healthcare fraud impacts Medicare and Medicaid, taking dollars out of those programs that otherwise would go to much-needed medical care.  Fraud by government contractors hits the budgets of federal, state and local agencies, from the Pentagon to city housing departments.  Investigators and prosecutors work with scarce resources to police a virtual tidal wave of wrongdoing.

To help ferret out fraud, the U.S. government, many states, and some cities have False Claims statutes that enable citizens to act as whistleblowers and bring lawsuits on behalf of the government.  The Federal False Claims Act is called the “Lincoln Law” because it was first passed under Abraham Lincoln to sanction unscrupulous vendors who sold shoddy uniforms, defective arms, and other substandard supplies to the Union Army.

Under these laws, the whistleblower can receive a significant money reward for bringing non-public information about fraud to the attention of the authorities.  As their investigative budgets tighten, these governments increasingly rely on whistleblower actions, known as qui tam cases, to help them discover fraud, and recover ill-gotten taxpayer dollars to their treasuries.

Could I be a Whistleblower?

  • Do you work for a company that you suspect is committing fraud?
  • Do you personally know about fraud going on at a company, even if you don’t work there?
  • Has the company lied in its communications to the government, either by making false statements or omitting important information?
  • Has the company’s wrongdoing cost the government money, directly or indirectly?
  • Has the company kept the fraud a secret; i.e., has there been no media attention, publicity or investigation into the fraud?
  • Have you personally witnessed executives, managers and/or co-workers committing fraud?
  • Do you have emails, PowerPoints, memos, spreadsheets or other documents that have false statements, omit important information or show other evidence of fraud?
  • Have you complained to your supervisors or to a compliance hotline and gotten no response or a “brushoff, or were threatened or retaliated against as a result?”
  • Has anyone at the company threatened your job, salary or advancement because you complained or raised questions about something that didn’t “smell right”?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you could qualify to bring a qui tam case as a whistleblower, also known in these cases as a “relator” because you “relate” your information to the government.  If you also believe you were retaliated against because you tried to blow the whistle, then you may have a separate claim for that wrongdoing.

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