It is an unfortunate reality that corporations that do business with the government regularly engage in fraud, corruption, dishonesty, and other wrongful or illegal conduct. The federal government and most states have passed laws to reward brave individuals at such companies – or others with knowledge of the illegal conduct – to step forward and report fraud on the government. These individuals are called “whistleblowers.”
Our team of whistleblower attorneys at Youman & Caputo have a track record of success in representing whistleblowers from coast to coast. We will work to achieve the maximum compensation possible for having the courage to blow the whistle on fraud on the government.
Whistleblowers can be almost anyone with evidence of fraud on the government. Whistleblower laws reward whistleblowers who report fraud on governmental programs, federal tax fraud, or securities fraud, when that report leads to a successful enforcement action by the government or by the whistleblower on the government’s behalf.
According to the National Whistleblower Center, brave whistleblowers across the years have helped to drive major governmental structural change across industries. The False Claims Act provides some protections against retaliation for whistleblowers who report allegations of government fraud.
A false claim occurs when an individual or organization cheats the federal government out of money. In 1863, the United States False Claims Act was signed into law to target fraud in government contracting during wartime. In 1986, several amendments to the Act significantly increased the roles of whistleblowers, increased the financial incentives for reporting wronging, and reduced the obstacles for bringing cases against persons and corporations cheating the federal government.
Since then, thousands of qui tam actions have been filed under the False Claims Act and whistleblowers have recovered more than 59 billion dollars for the federal government as a result. A qui tam lawsuit is simply a lawsuit that is filed under “seal” which means that the existence of the lawsuit will not be disclosed to the defendant or be a matter of public record. The only entity that has “notice” of a qui tam action is the government. However, it is best to consult with an experienced qui tam false claims attorney, such as the ones at Youman & Caputo to weigh the risks and potential benefits for your particular circumstances.
A person that has information about fraud on the Federal government must file a lawsuit in Federal Court under the United States False Claims Act. The United States False Claims Act allows a private citizen whistleblower to file suit on the federal government’s behalf against companies that are defrauding the government and, if the case is successful, the whistleblower (or “relator”) is entitled to a percentage of the government’s recovery (generally between 15% and 30%).
The law provides that an entity or company that has defrauded the Federal Government out of money can be held liable, or legally responsible for up to three times the amount of the fraud, plus penalties and fines. Whistleblowers who identify and report False Claim Act violations are given legal protection against employer retaliation, such as termination.
Additionally, a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act is filed “under seal.” When a lawsuit is filed under seal, this means it is kept strictly confidential so that only the government is aware of the case. This means that the entity or organization that you are alleging committed or is currently committing fraud will not be informed about your whistleblower case without the express permission of the court handling your lawsuit.
Whistleblower cases eventually become public when the government notifies the court whether or not it intends to join the case. At this stage, the court will unseal the case and the defendant (and public at large) learn of the allegations. However, as mentioned before, whistleblowers have certain legal protection against employer retaliation.
A lawsuit under the False Claims Act can be based on any of the following violations by an individual or entity:
In other words, if someone has information that a company or individual knowingly presents a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval or knowingly conceals an obligation to pay money or property to the government, then this person will be eligible to file a qui tam lawsuit. This lawsuit will provide the government with specific information about the fraud and the financial loss to the government.
The False Claims Act awards whistleblowers whose lawsuits are successful to encourage whistleblowers to come forward and report governmental fraud. The Federal Government recognizes the risk that whistleblowers undertake to report fraud, corruption, and abuse by providing monetary awards to successful False Claim Act lawsuits.
This list does not represent all of the types of fraud eligible for Whistleblower or False Claim Act claims. Speak to a knowledgeable whistleblower lawyer at Youman & Caputo to achieve the best possible outcome based on your individual circumstances for your whistleblower or False Claims Act case.
In order to have a qui tam False Claims Act case, you must show that there is either a financial loss to the government or a violation of governmental act stemming from fraud that you have witnessed. In order to be entitled to financial compensation, you must show that the information provided to the government in relation to fraud leads to the successful prosecution or settlement, and then you may be entitled to a percentage of the government’s recovery. Different types of whistleblower claims have different legal requirements, but every type of whistleblower claim requires being able to provide the affected federal agency with very specific information about the fraud that is being committed.
Whistleblowers must use a lawyer to file a qui tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act. A qui tam lawsuit simply means it allows a private citizen to prosecute a lawsuit for the government and receive monetary compensation as a reward. While private citizens are allowed to file whistleblower claims with the Internal Revenue Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission without an attorney, it is highly recommended that you hire an attorney to help your case be as legally strong before you submit your whistleblower claim.
The applicable laws and legal regulations of Whistleblower claims are often quite complex with unique procedural requirements. You should consult with an experienced whistleblower lawyer to evaluate the potential claim. The whistleblower lawyers at Youman & Caputo have successful litigation experience in Qui Tam False Claims Act cases, IRS Whistleblower claims, Securities and Exchange Whistleblower claims, and CFTC Whistleblower claims.
Whistleblower cases operate under “first to file” procedural rules. This means that your claim can be barred if another whistleblower already filed a legal action in court or made a governmental submission based on the same evidence or facts of wrongdoing that you have.
First to file cases are dependent on your individual circumstances, therefore it is best to work with a knowledgeable whistleblower attorney. The whistleblower attorneys at Youman & Caputo will work with you to achieve both the best possible legal outcome and to maximize the potential compensation owed to you following all the necessary procedural regulations.
Once the government is given notice about the False Claims Act lawsuit, it will investigate the allegations while the case remains under seal (non-public). While the initial “seal” is sixty days while the government conducts its investigation, it is often extended to allow the court more time. This could take months or years depending on the specific circumstances alleged, so do not expect a quick resolution. However, the lawyers at Youman & Caputo will provide you with an estimated timeline based on your specific circumstances and will work with you to achieve the best possible outcome.
Youman & Caputo has a track record of success in representing whistleblowers from coast to coast and has the necessary knowledge and experience to achieve your best possible outcome. Contact Youman & Caputo for a free consultation on your whistleblower situation today!
“I am beyond happy that I went with this firm! A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders as they fought for me and won my case! They changed my life for the better and I couldn’t be happier with them and the way they treated me and worked with me through the entire process.” – Chelsea Cicio