With an annual budget of $4 trillion, the U.S. government is, unfortunately, susceptible to many different kinds of fraud. In addition to managing the daily operations of various agencies and the U.S. military, the federal government also oversees a portfolio of over 2,200 federal assistance programs. The $1.2 trillion of state revenue spent by the 50 states plus the District of Columbia is also a target of fraudsters.
Fraud can occur in any of these tax-funded programs when service providers, organizations and companies cause the federal or a state government to either pay a higher price than necessary or deliver a product or service that is, in some way, less than what was required. In either situation, the claim for payment could potentially be considered a “false claim.” If a private citizen possesses detailed non-public information about the fraud, he or she may be able to help the government recover its funds by bringing a lawsuit under the federal or a state False Claims Act (FCA). FCA whistleblowers, also called “relators,” can potentially share in the government’s recovery. The FCA also protects whistleblowers from an employer’s retaliation based simply on the employee’s having blown the whistle about potential fraud.
The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) here provide more detailed information about FCA laws and how Qui Tam cases work. But most importantly, please keep in mind the following:
The clock is ticking on your fraud claim
FCA cases are filed under protective seal and first-filed relators have the best chance of obtaining compensation for their information. FCA laws also place a time limit on how long after the fraud was committed a case can still be filed. Finally, the longer you wait, the greater the risk that the fraud becomes known to others, who might file similar cases before you, which may prohibit you from moving forward based on the “first-to-file” rule.
Choose an attorney with experience and resources
Attorneys who file Qui Tam cases in federal or state court race against the “first-to-file” clock while, at the time, making the initial complaint as complete and compelling as possible. These time constraints make it critical to choose an attorney with a successful track record in FCA cases, credibility with state and federal prosecutors, and sufficient financial resources to investigate and, if necessary, litigate your case.
Speak frankly with your attorney – and only your attorney
Be completely open and honest with your attorney about what you know and how you came to know it. Since Qui Tam lawyers take cases on a contingent basis, they will typically be very candid with you about your case’s strengths, weaknesses and likelihood of success. If you decide to move forward, do not discuss the lawsuit with anyone else except your attorney. Do not post information to social media, and do not discuss it with your work colleagues, friends or family.
With over 30 years of experience in Qui Tam cases, the attorneys on Baron & Budd’s whistleblower representation team have represented over 70 clients in Qui Tam cases returning over $5.4 billion to federal and state agencies, with whistleblower recovery shares as high as 49%. They are ready to help if you feel you have the evidence needed in order to pursue a Qui Tam lawsuit. Please call 866-401-5971 or complete our online case intake form if you would like more information.