If you have specific information about government fraud, a whistleblower lawsuit could result in a cash reward for you while protecting you from retaliation by your employer.
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The federal False Claims Act allows regular citizens to sue companies, organizations and individuals to recover money fraudulently taken from the government. Under the law, you could keep a share of any money that is recovered.
To encourage whistleblowers to come forward, the False Claims Act — also known as the Qui Tam Statute, Lincoln Law or Whistleblower Act — offers sizeable awards to people who alert the government to fraud. An estimated $10 billion has been recovered under the act since the 1980s, with whistleblowers claiming at least a $1 billion share in rewards.
In addition to the federal law, the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago have similar programs to reward whistleblowers who expose fraud perpetrated on the government.
If you have credible information that your employer or another company or organization has defrauded the government, contact the Chicago whistleblower attorneys at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. We may be able to help you prepare, package and present a qui tam claim.
Call 312-372-1227 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation. Our attorneys can review the facts and advise you about whether your whistleblower claim has merit.
The False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729, allows citizen whistleblowers to bring a legal action on the federal government’s behalf against contractors that have defrauded the government. Enacted during the Civil War, the statute has its roots in the common law concept of a “qui tam” action. The Latin term comes from a phrase that translates as “he who sues for the king as well as for himself.”
Many types of government fraud can be the subject of a qui tam lawsuit. The notable exceptions are tax fraud and fraud perpetrated by judges, senior members of the executive branch, members of Congress and the states. Wasteful government spending alone cannot form the basis of a whistleblower claim.
Roughly half of all whistleblower lawsuits involve health-care fraud, including fraudulent claims under Medicare and Medicaid. Other common types of fraud exposed by whistleblower lawsuits include schemes involving:
To encourage whistleblowers to come forward with the information they have about government fraud, the False Claims Act offers sizeable rewards of 15-30 percent of any money the government recovers in the lawsuit. A successful claim can result in triple damages, plus a penalty of $5,500-$11,000 per claim.
A “claim” is often determined to mean each individual bill or request for government payment, meaning some fraudulent schemes can involve hundreds or even thousands of claims — and equally as many penalties.
The government has a great deal of discretion in determining how much of the recovery will go to the whistleblower. Prompt reporting of the fraud and significant cooperation with the government improve the odds of recovering a large award. Typically, only the first whistleblower to report the fraud can recover a reward. This makes filing a timely claim even more crucial.
One of the keys to success in a qui tam claim is persuading the government to intervene in your case. A skilled Chicago whistleblower attorney like the ones at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., can help you fully develop your case to increase the likelihood of government participation.
The process begins by filing a disclosure statement with the government. This statement should spell out the details of the fraud, along with supporting documentation. Your claim will remain “under seal,” or private, for at least 60 days while the government determines whether it wants to take part in your lawsuit. Although the odds of success are much greater when the government intervenes, it might still be advisable in some situations to carry on without the government’s help.
Whistleblowers, also called “relators,” are frequently past or current employees of organizations that have defrauded the government. In order to protect them, the False Claims Act prevents employers from retaliating against whistleblowers.
Qui tam actions are also commonly brought by federal employees, subcontractors, competitors, patients or virtually anyone who has information about government fraud. You are not required to show that you suffered personal harm in order to be a whistleblower. The key is showing that the government was defrauded.
Because whistleblower cases are so complex and fraught with technicalities, it is crucial to seek the counsel of an Illinois attorney. At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., we will thoroughly prepare your case to enhance the likelihood of your success.
If you have evidence of government fraud, call us today at 312-372-1227 or go online to arrange a free and confidential consultation. We handle whistleblower claims for clients in Chicago, Waukegan and throughout Illinois.