Everyone knows that the United States Government handles a great deal of big business. Medicaid, Medicare, defense contracting jobs. All of these and more get paid for with government money, which means they get paid for using taxpayer’s money. So, what happens when the funds for these projects are mishandled by the companies who are entrusted to handle them appropriately? How does the Government get its money back when it is stolen through fraud and misappropriation?
Under the False Claims Act, the government has the right to go after any monies defrauded from public programs by any persons or companies retained to carry out the business of those programs. Included in this act is the provision for the government to employee Qui Tam cases. Qui Tam has been a recognized concept since the 14th century and has been used by countries all around the world.
Qui Tam lawsuits are lawsuits in which a whistleblower may be awarded a sum of money in exchange for information that helps the government bring suit on those who are engaged in fraud. Since 1987, the federal government has recovered $39 billion dollars in cases that have been brought under the False Claims Act, according to the US Department of Justice. Qui Tam cases have increased in volume since 1986, the year the False Claims Act was amended to its current form. In the last ten years, this escalation increase has accelerated, bringing the number of Qui Tam cases to approximately 7,200.
The whistleblowers, also referred to as relators, is typically entitled to a reward of between 25 to 30 percent of the recovery in a case. The actual amount of the reward to the relator depends on many factors, including the detail and quality of the whistleblower lawyer retain on the case. Whistleblower law firms that specialize in these types of cases usually are very well educated regarding the specifics of what goes into a qui tam lawsuit procedure. They do everything they can to aid a whistleblower in their sometimes dangerous position.
Qui tam lawsuits are very rarely cut and dried for a relator. Of those who have witnessed wrongdoing and reported it, 22% of them experienced some sort of retaliation. Many people know about wrongdoing but choose not to report it because of this very issue. Fearing retaliation of some kind has led many to turn a blind eye. Of those who have kept wrongdoing to themselves, 45% of them listed fear of retaliation as their main reason for keep ing quiet.
In our modern world, the government controls a great deal of our money. On our behalf, the government hires contractors, vendors, and many other types of companies to carry out the business of various projects. Sadly, corruption and fraud is more common than you might think. Thanks to the False Claims Act and the use of qui tam lawsuits, much of that lost money can be recovered, and if you have information that aids in the prosecution of those involved, you are entitled to a financial reward for your time and trouble.