Government Whistleblower (Qui Tam) Claims Attorneys
So-called “qui tam” lawsuits can be described as “fraud on the government” claims. And when the government is defrauded, so are the taxpayers.
“In a qui tam action, a private party called a relator brings an action on the government’s behalf. The government, not the relator, is considered the real plaintiff. If the government succeeds, the relator receives a share of the award.” –Legal Information Institute
Do you suspect your employer is cheating on corporate taxes, abusing government contracts, committing financial fraud against the government, or defrauding the government to pursue financial gain?
If so, you may have a whistleblower (qui tam) claim and could potentially recover from 15% to 30% of any financial recovery owed to the government. While a small portion of qui tam cases settle for tens of millions of dollars, most successful cases settle for $2 million or less, according to Taxpayers Against Fraud (TAF), and the average whistleblower award in a $2 million case is $320,000 if there is only one whistleblower.1
It is vital to act quickly when filing a whistleblower or qui tam case. Under the federal False Claims Act, only the first person to file a whistleblower lawsuit can proceed with the legal action and collect potential monetary damages.
Frequently Asked Questions about Whistleblower (Qui Tam) Claims
- How Do I Report Potential Fraud?
- What Is a Whistleblower Lawsuit?
- Why Would Whistleblowers Come Forward?
- Who Are Whistleblowers?
- What Are Examples of Fraud That People Have Reported?
- Why Would I Want to Report Fraud?
- How Much Might I Get For Being a Whistleblower?
- What Job Protections Do I Have if I File a Case?
- What Is the Case Process if the Government Elects to Pursue My Case?
- Is It Worth Moving Forward With a Case if the Government Decides Not to Participate?
- How Can the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin Help?
- Whistleblowers Provide Majority of Government Fraud Recovery
How Do I Report Potential Fraud?
Sometimes people who suspect fraud are unsure where to begin, and they just want to talk to someone confidentially about what they have observed.
Take the first step by contacting us or calling 1-866-900-7078 to discuss your situation. Your case evaluation is confidential, and it is free. We will evaluate your circumstances and let you know if we believe you have a valid claim to move forward.[ Back to Top ]
What Is a Whistleblower Lawsuit?
Whistleblower lawsuits are claims that try to protect the U.S. government from those who attempt to defraud taxpayers. The person who brings information forward is known as the “relator” in a qui tam case. You may recall that in the 1980s, during the defense contracting boom, some contractors charged hundreds of dollars for a toilet seat on a plane or a ship or for a hammer or other tool you could buy at a hardware store for $10. Whistleblowers helped stop some of these unlawful practices. Unfortunately, studies indicate that the vast majority of offenses remain unreported and unchecked.
But fraud against the government, while reduced by these lawsuits, has stemmed abuses in virtually every industry, including housing and mortgage lending, education and student loan obligations, U.S. Customs, finance, and health care.
In fact, more than half of the $4.7 billion whistleblower recovery in 2016 was from the health care industry alone. Much of this amount arose from inflated or false Medicare claims to collusion and kickbacks among doctors, hospitals, and other medical care facilities.
BP Oil was required to refund the government more than $80 million for filing false claims as a result of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Wherever there is government funding, there is potential fraud. It happens more often than you think![ Back to Top ]
Why Would Whistleblowers Come Forward?
People reveal fraud on the government for many reasons. Some come forward because of their principles. Some are motivated by the financial incentives. According to TAF, the Justice Department recovered more than $2.2 billion in 2020 for civil fraud and false claims cases. Individuals who file whistleblower claims on behalf of the U.S. government may be compensated anywhere from 15% to 30% of the total recovery in some successful cases.
TAF reports that half of all successful cases settle for $2 million or less, and the average whistleblower award in a $2 million case is $320,000 if there is only one whistleblower.1[ Back to Top ]
Who Are Whistleblowers?
Bank tellers and managers. Nurses and other medical personnel on any level. A mid-level manager for a major corporation (remember Enron?). Defense contractor machinists, suppliers, manufacturers, and procurement companies. Construction companies and their subcontractors. People just like you.
Anyone who has knowledge of fraud against the U.S. government or a state government and can provide supporting evidence could potentially serve as a whistleblower and file a qui tam lawsuit.
Attorney Gary Jackson handled a whistleblower lawsuit3 against CVS Caremark (RxAmerica, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CVS Caremark Corporation) for Medicare fraud. This case was one of the first False Claims Act settlements involving Medicare’s Prescription Drug Program, known as Part D. The company agreed to pay the government $5.25 million1 to resolve allegations that it made false submissions to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Gary has participated in several other whistleblower (qui tam) cases both in the federal courts and North Carolina state courts.3
Anyone has the right to report fraud through a whistleblower (qui tam) lawsuit as long as the information they provide is original information that was not previously known and is not known to the public.[ Back to Top ]
What Are Examples of Fraud That People Have Reported?
What if you’re a nurse or office administrator who notices a doctor “upcharges” Medicare and Medicaid patients on a regular basis? An upcharge occurs when an insurance claim should be coded for one procedure, but instead, that code reflects something more costly.
Perhaps you work for a company that contracts with the Department of Defense, and you notice that the company is billing hours for personnel who aren’t actually working at the time. The government (that is, taxpayers) is paying for a service that isn’t being rendered.
Maybe you are a researcher with a university or a research hospital, and you become aware of fraudulent grant applications. Government funds are being procured under false pretenses.
Or maybe you’re a branch manager in a bank who discovers a pattern of fraud, like the Wells Fargo fake account scandal. A Wells Fargo branch manager was fired after reporting her suspicions of fraud. Federal and state laws prohibit retaliation when an employee reports potentially unlawful activity. The branch manager sued and won her job back and more than $500,000 in back-pay and legal fees.
If you are aware of fraud being committed against the government, whatever your position or industry, you may have a qui tam claim.[ Back to Top ]
Why Would I Want to Report Fraud?
Why should you care if the government is being defrauded? That is for you to decide. We believe that most people who come forward do so because they feel it is the right thing to do.
People come forward for many reasons. Some because of their principles. Some for the possible financial incentives.[ Back to Top ]
How Much Might I Get For Being a Whistleblower?
Individuals who file successful whistleblower claims on behalf of the U.S. government may be entitled to compensation of up to 30% of the total recovery where the government declines to become involved in the case. When the government chooses to take the case, whistleblowers may receive 15-25% of any recovery. Some whistleblower claims can settle for tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. TAF reports that half of all successful cases settle for $2 million or less, and the average whistleblower award in a $2 million case is $320,000 if there is only one whistleblower.1[ Back to Top ]
What Job Protections Do I Have if I File a Case?
False Claims Act Protects Whistleblowers
Whistleblower provisions of the federal False Claims Act permit individuals to sue on behalf of the U.S. government for false claims and share in any recovery. The False Claims Act allows those with evidence of fraud against federal programs or contracts to sue the wrongdoer on behalf of the U.S. government. While employees and others having knowledge of fraud may be reluctant to come forward with a lawsuit due to possible retaliation by their employer, the False Claims Act allows them to file a whistleblower claim while receiving certain protections under federal law. If the whistleblower is an employee, the False Claims Act offers protection from discrimination, termination, shortened work hours, demotions, inhospitable work environment, and other punishments from the employer.
The complaint is filed under seal for 60 days or longer and is not available to the accused company, entity, or the public, and it cannot be discussed except by those who are investigating the case. During this 60-day period, the government will investigate the claims and gather evidence. If the government chooses to participate in the lawsuit, litigation will be conducted with an attorney and the government’s lawyer. If the government decides not to participate, the attorney may continue to pursue the case on behalf of the whistleblower in some cases.
Won’t I Eventually Lose My Job if My Employer Is Found Liable?
While cases are filed under seal for 60 days to help protect the whistleblower, your anonymity will not last forever. Whistleblower protections are generally triggered if you have been fired, and filing a False Claims Act case will not necessarily prevent you from being fired. However, the law also allows you to be compensated if you can show that your firing or demotion was retaliation.[ Back to Top ]
What Is the Case Process if the Government Elects to Pursue My Case?
The federal False Claims Act requires you to file a complaint in court and submit it to the government along with a Disclosure Statement detailing the allegations. The whistleblower attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin will do this for you.
This evidence will be used in the written Complaint or Relator’s Statement filed with the responsible U.S. Attorney. The Complaint and the Relator’s Statement will include the name of the entity or entities suspected of fraud, the nature and operation of the alleged fraud, and any documented evidence supporting it.
If the government decides to pursue your lead, it will conduct its own investigation. During this time, your identity and any case information are kept confidential, and any complaints filed in court are kept under seal. Governmental attorneys may interview you and others during this time in their efforts to obtain additional proof of alleged fraud.
If the government ultimately decides to take over the case, you will most likely be required to participate, including appearing at trial. At this time, your identity will be disclosed. When the government intervenes, most cases are successful, and you may receive between 15 and 25 percent of the government’s likely recovery.
How long does the process take?
While the average whistleblower case requires 38 months, some cases can take longer. The whistleblower must show documented evidence of allegations – emails, phone conversations, billing records, test results, sales reports, etc. The information must be original information and not known publicly.
The government does not move quickly, and there may be lengthy and exhaustive processes, procedures, and protocols during an undercover whistleblower investigation. During this time, you may hear very little from the government or know little about its progress.
Approximately 100 to 150 cases a year are positively resolved.[ Back to Top ]
Is It Worth Moving Forward With a Case if the Government Decides Not to Participate?
If the government decides not to pursue the case, which happens in about 80% percent of the cases, you can still generally pursue the suit on behalf of the government. If your case is successful, you may be entitled to a higher portion of the government’s recovery, up to 30%.
However, the government’s involvement in the case brings with it enormous resources. In 2018, for example, the government recovered nearly $2 billion in qui tam cases in which it intervened. In the cases in which the government declined to participate, the recovery was less than $120 million. The whistleblower attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin can help you determine if your case is worth pursuing if the government declines to participate – speak with us first. You can’t possibly succeed if you give up before you start.[ Back to Top ]
How Can the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin Help?
You need to have hands-on experience on your side. Because there is so much at stake, we handle these cases on a contingency fee2 basis. As one of the largest law firms in North Carolina, we have the financial, human, and technological resources to front the inevitable expenses involved in the investigation. You pay us nothing whatsoever if we do not win your case.2[ Back to Top ]
Whistleblowers Provide Majority of Government Fraud Recovery
Although many whistleblower lawsuits go largely unknown to the public, whistleblowers are more common than you might think. The fact is, these individuals provide more than half of all U.S. government fraud recoveries, according to TAF.
While there can be substantial compensation for whistleblowers, it is not easy or comfortable to come forward with incriminating information. Some people fear job discrimination, job loss, or worse. Yet, Attorney Gary Jackson says he believes many people come forward because they feel it is their duty. “Cheating the government is not only wrong but many feel, as taxpayers, they too have been cheated,” he said.
A duty to come forward is what our founding fathers envisioned in 1778 when the U.S. Congress enacted America’s first Whistleblower Law.
Many provisions of the False Claims Act date to March 1863, when Congress enacted a law to deter and redress fraud by military contractors during the Civil War.[i]
Contractors for the U.S. government engaged in fraud by selling the military cardboard boots, sawdust for gunpowder, decrepit horses, and rotted ships repainted to look new. And they would overcharge for these products that were not only useless but potentially put soldiers at risk.
“It is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or any other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds, or misdemeanors committed by any persons in the service of these states.”
Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin for a Free, Confidential Case Evaluation for Whistleblower Claims
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3 Some cases listed were handled prior to attorney’s association with the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin.
[i] Pub. L. 37-67, available at https://govtrackus.s3.amazonaws.com/legislink/pdf/stat/12/STATUTE-12-Pg696b.pdf.