Defrauding the government is a serious crime. If you work for an organization with this type of dishonest business practice, you may have questions about your own recourse. Is it safe to report your employer? Would doing so be putting your job in jeopardy? Here are some basics to be aware of:
Understanding the crime
The False Claims Act is a federal law that criminalizes submitting fraudulent claims to the government. A “false claim” is anything that defrauds, cheats or steals from the government. For example:
- Billing for services that were never rendered
- Making false reports regarding a product’s quality
- Overcharging the government
- Testing products improperly for government inspection
What you can do
If you are aware that your employer is committing a crime under the False Claims Act, you have the option of submitting what’s known as a qui tam action to report it. This is a means for you to confidentially report your organization’s wrongdoing without having to worry about facing any retaliation – like losing your job.
In order to file a qui tam action, you only need to be able to show that your employer committed fraud – not that they intentionally committed it.
What’s in it for you
In addition to clearing your conscience by doing the right thing, you can also stand to gain financially through a qui tam action. If the government wins the case, you will share in the financial gain. A conviction can lead to civil penalties of up to $10,000 plus the total amount of damages multiplied by three. As the whistleblower, you could earn anywhere from 15% to 30% of the total recovery.
If you suspect institutional foul play, it’s worth discussing your concerns with an attorney experienced in qui tam litigation. It could be a conversation that changes your life for the better.