In an ideal world, everyone would want (and feel free) to speak up if they knew someone was trying to defraud the government. After all, the government’s money is the public’s money – it comes from the taxes people pay.
Yet, you only have to see how many people stay silent about all sorts of things they witness to know that most people feel more comfortable staying silent. They figure it is none of their business or that speaking up will come at too great a personal cost. That is why the government offers a percentage of the money they recover through a qui tam lawsuit to the person who spoke up to bring the case.
It’s all about balancing risk and reward
The goal of offering a financial incentive is to “optimize the quantity and quality of information that whistleblowers bring to light about ongoing corporate malfeasance and to do so in a way that makes early intervention by public and private enforcement authorities feasible and effective.”
While the government could have sought to keep all the money recovered, it realized that offering a percentage made it more likely they could recover something in the first place. It helps people overcome the (often valid) fears they may have about reporting people or companies who are defrauding the government. Even if there is no particular fear, a financial reward can help people overcome their inertia about reporting wrongdoing.
Those reported may not take kindly to learning someone has blown the whistle on them. They may retaliate by dismissing the person or taking other harmful actions. While any form of retaliation is illegal, it is wise to learn more about the protection whistleblower laws offer you and the rewards you may be entitled to before you proceed.