How do you know if you have a whistleblower case? In general, you need some specific information or evidence of fraud to bring a whistleblower case under the False Claims Act. The amount of information you need to bring a claim depends on the type of case. The information you provide to the government impacts the amount of any whistleblower award.
Many whistleblower claims are brought under the federal False Claims Act. This includes general claims of fraud against the government, including healthcare fraud, Medicare fraud, fraud surrounding government relief programs (including SBA loans and grants from the Coronavirus relief package) and government contractor fraud. Other whistleblower cases, such as income tax fraud or sales tax fraud, may have different procedures. If you are not sure whether you have enough information for a whistleblower claim, talk to your experienced whistleblower lawyer.
What do you need to bring a whistleblower claim?
Most individuals are eligible to file a whistleblower claim. To bring a whistleblower claim, you need to have evidence or information indicating fraud. This could include overhearing a conversation between a doctor and pharmaceutical representative, altered invoices, knowledge that what your employer is doing violates federal regulations, or even someone bragging about ripping off the government.
Whistleblower claims require credible and specific information, knowledge, or evidence of fraud or dishonesty in transactions with the government. A general suspicion of fraud may not be enough to file a claim. For example, if your employer complains to you about his struggling business, and a month later shows up in a brand new sports car, you may suspect the doctor is committing some sort of fraud. That is not necessarily enough.
Federal whistleblower claims require fraud against the government, including the federal government, government agencies, military, and governmental departments. Some of the most common whistleblower claims for fraud against the government involve fraud against the government healthcare divisions, Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. Additionally, government relief programs, like the Coronavirus relief program, my provide fodder for fraudsters to find a way to manipulate the system to make money at the expense of the government accounts.
The wrongdoer generally has to have some knowledge that they are committing fraud in order to support a whistleblower action. This includes a reckless disregard of the truth or deliberate ignorance of false information. If a contractor made a billing mistake and overcharged for services to the government, that mistake may not be considered knowledge. If, however, someone received a payment for an invoice from the government that was much higher than what was billed, ignoring the error may constitute knowledge of fraud.
You must have an attorney to bring a False Claims Act case against the government.
What should I do if I suspect fraud?
You should NOT do anything illegal to try to gather evidence or information. Do not put yourself, your job, or your liberty at risk by possibly committing a crime or violating federal or state laws. If you suspect fraud, the simplest way to find out if you have a case is to talk to an experienced whistleblower lawyer. She or he can tell you if you may have a claim and advise you on what step you should take to protect yourself.
State False Claims Acts
Whistleblower claims are not limited to fraud against the federal government. Many states, including Florida and New York, have their own version of the federal False Claims Act. These laws similarly allow a private individual to file a whistleblower case on behalf of the state for fraud claims.
The Florida False Claims Act makes it a violation to knowingly defraud any department, division, or district of the state government. The damages for a Florida False Claims Act violation include a penalty of $5,500 up to $11,000 and triple the amount of damages the state sustained.
The New York False Claims act includes fraud to the state or local government. The damages for a New York False Claims Act violation include a penalty of between $6,000 and $12,000 and triple the amount of damages sustained by the state or local government.
The individual who files the claim may be eligible to receive up to 30% of the proceeds of the action or settlement of the claim. In addition, the individual may be awarded reasonable attorney fees and court costs.
Questions About Your Whistleblower Case
If you have any question about whether you may have a whistleblower case, the Law Offices of Audrey Hildes Schechter is here for you. We will advise you of your rights and your options and help you pursue a whistleblower claim and potentially receive a reward for your courage. Contact the Attorney Schechter today.