Whistleblower (Qui Tam) Claims
The importance of combating government fraud and waste cannot be over emphasized. Private Citizens as whistleblowers can play a role in going after companies engaged in defrauding taxpayers.
Since the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War, the Federal False Claims Act (“FCA”), 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729 – 3733, has been an important means by which whistleblowers can help recover losses resulting from government contractor fraud. Such whistleblower actions are filed by qui tam relators, individuals who bring suit under the FCA on behalf of the United States. The False Claims Act applies to any person who: A) knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval; B) knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim; c) has possession, custody, or control of property or money used, or to be used, by the Government and knowingly delivers, or causes to be delivered, less than all of that money or property; d) is authorized to make or deliver a document certifying receipt of property used, or to be used, by the Government and, intending to defraud the Government, makes or delivers the receipt without completely knowing that the information on the receipt is true; f) knowingly buys, or receives as a pledge of an obligation or debt, public property from an officer or employee of the Government, or a member of the Armed Forces, who lawfully may not sell or pledge property; or g) knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government, or knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government. Such persons, or those who conspire with them, can be held liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not less than $5,000 and not more than $10,000, as adjusted by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, plus 3 times the amount of damages which the Government sustains because of the act of that person.
If you have direct personal knowledge of fraud against the United States government, at your company, university or even at another business or university, you may be entitled to collect a reward of 15% to 30% of the total amount of the fraudulent billings recovered by the government. The Federal Civil False Claims Act basically allows ordinary private citizens to act as attorney generals and file lawsuits on behalf of the United States government. The term “qui tam” derives from Latin and refers to “suing for the sovereign and for himself.”
People who come forward to expose fraud perform a public service. The current qui tam provision was designed to reward the whistleblower monetarily, and also protects the whistleblower from retaliation by his or her company. The two most common areas for Qui Tam lawsuits involve Medicare payments, and defense contracts. But, the Act may apply to a university that defrauds the government and students to secure student loan money. If you believe you many have a claim under the qui tam provision of the Federal False Claims Act, please contact one of our attorneys to discuss the matter.