What steps should I take if I've discovered fraud? How do I know if my employer's conduct is fraudulent? How do I blow the whistle?
What conduct by my employer is fraudulent?
Basically, any action by your employer where it is billing the government for payment to which it is not entitled is likely fraudulent. For example, such fraudulent acts could take the form of billing for medical services not rendered, billing for services that are not medically necessary, billing for services that result from a kickback to a third party (for example, a drug company paying a doctor to prescribe medication), or billing services to a government agency for grant work when that work was not performed. If you suspect that there is something fraudulent about the activity, you should consult a whistleblower attorney to discuss the matter.
What should you do if your employer is committing fraud?
If you believe you have discovered fraud at your workplace, you should try to determine the magnitude of the fraud and gather lawfully available documents or electronic evidence. This should be done without violating the law or the terms of any employment agreement. You should contact an experienced whistleblower attorney as soon as you suspect the fraud. If you have attended meetings where the fraud was discussed, or been involved in relevant events, you should write down the details of these meetings or events, including when they took place, what was said by whom, who was present, and what documents exist that memorialize the meetings or events. If you write the notes as a memorandum to your qui tam attorney/whistleblower attorney, they will be protected by the attorney-client privilege, so contact a qui tam attorney at the beginning of the process.
The False Claims Act has important restrictions on federal qui tam actions. You cannot recover if another whistleblower has already filed a qui tam complaint based on the same information. Therefore, it is very important that you never discuss the fraud with others. Doing so may inspire co-workers or others to file their own qui tam action, thereby barring yours. Also, information that has already been made public cannot serve as the basis of a whistleblower qui tam claim.
If you believe that your employer or medical provider has defrauded the government, please contact a qui tam attorney as soon as possible.
How do I know if I have a Qui Tam case?
A Qui Tam case is a case that a private citizen brings on behalf of the government. But what does that mean? It means that if you have evidence that a company is defrauding the government, as a whistleblower or qui tam relator you can file a legal action in the government's name. The whistleblower typically receives a percentage of any money the government recovers. This is done under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.
The U.S. Department of Justice investigates a False Claims Act claim and decides whether it will join in the legal action. If the government joins the lawsuit, the whistleblower can receive between 15 and 25 percent of the recovery depending on the value of the information provided. Similar laws exist in Florida and other states.
WARNING! Be very cautious about sharing details of your potential case with others, and limit the number of people you confide in to the greatest degree possible. Some whistleblower laws include provisions that require secrecy and confidentiality, and every government investigation is conducted on a need-to-know basis.