If you’re a False Claims Act whistleblower, then an attorney affiliated with Lawscape can help you get a whistleblower reward, and protect you from potential retaliation. The false claims act requires that a prospective whistleblower use an attorney and file a qui tam case.
For many years, attorneys part of our group have experience with qui tam cases
Qui Tam whistleblowers, also known as relators, seek rewards under the False Claim Act’s qui tam provision. Through a qui tam lawsuit, one of our attorneys can help a relator obtain whistleblower rewards.
What is the False Claims Act Federal Law
This law, also known as the Lincoln Law, was enacted by President Lincoln to curb profiteering during the Civil War. It’s the most effective law ever passed to protect and reward whistleblowers who expose government fraud(contract fraud to be precise). This provision protects and empowers whistleblowers who have firsthand knowledge of fraud and violations against the government. There are provisions in this act that incentivize whistleblowers with award for their cooperation.
The FCA qui tam law sets mandatory minimum payments to people who are taking the risk and reporting the fraud. This is enforceable in court. The guaranteed minimum payment, which is often in the millions, is essential when trying to convince whistleblowers to step forward.
Government Contract Fraud
Government contracting fraud is one of the top misuses of taxpayer money and puts lives at risk. The most common type of fraud is illegal billing, and over-billing. Other reasons can include substituting inferior equipment, lack of quality control, kickbacks, etc. Below are a list of the most common types of fraud for which qui tam actions are filed in court:
- overbilling the government for more than what was provided
- fraud in getting government contracts
- providing defective goods to the government
- false statements on forms
- false statements to get a government lease
- failure to comply with contracts and leases
- conspiring with other people to get a false, or fraudulent claim, paid
- and more
Using the qui tam provision, a private citizen can file a complaint in federal court alleging fraud against the government. The whistleblower law extends to other industries too, where government money was involved and programs were violated. There are many types of fraud, such as:
- Healthcare fraud: Medicaid/Medicare fraud done by doctors, hospitals, etc, such as unnecessary medical procedures
- National defense fraud: Defense contract fraud, where funds are moved from one contract to another for profit
- Education/Financial aid fraud: For-profit colleges violating the rules of the student loan programs and improperly recruiting students to create income streams
- Bank/mortgage fraud: Banks submitting fraud claims for government insurance
FCA cases in which the government decides to intervene usually result in a recovery around 95% of the time.
Rewards for False Claim Act Whistleblower REwards
This act incentivizes whistleblowers to give the government the best and most accurate evidence related to frauds. Whistleblowers can get 15-30% of the total recovery the government gets from the defendant. Many acts, like the Dodd-Frank Act, Securities Exchange Act, and others, have provisions for mandatory payment of rewards to qualified whistleblowers.
There are no caps on awards. The value of the information the whistleblower provides is the basis for the award’s amount. The better the information, the larger the sanction, and the larger the reward. If the government refuses to pay the award, you can challenge that in court.
Qui Tam Actions
Complaints filed, are known as Qui Tam Actions, and have to be filed confidentially under seal in federal district court. In addition to filing this in federal court, there are other requirements such as:
- The FCA whistleblower has to file the complaint under seal, which is secret and not public.
- If another relator files a claim based on fraud you are alleging in your suit, this will disqualify you from the process.
- The complaint isn’t served on any defendant. The whistleblower has to serve the complaint on the local U.S. attorney’s office and the US attorney general. Until the court removes the seal, you have to keep the fact you filed this confidential. If the plaintiff violates the provision, his/her complaint may be dismissed.
What does it mean if there’s a decision on intervention?
Once the complaint is filed in court, and served, the US is required to investigate the information. After completing the investigation, the US decides whether to intervene in the case. Once the US government communicates this to the presiding judge, the case is taken out of seal and filed on the public docket. Although the whistleblower is confidential when filing the lawsuit, once a case is no longer sealed – the identity of the whistleblower is public record. For a good cause though, the whistleblower can ask the court to keep his/her identity confidential .