The False Claims Act (31 U.S.C. §§ 3729–3733) is a federal law that targets persons and companies who commit fraudulent actions against the government. Under the "qui tam" provision, people who have knowledge of wrongdoing are allowed to file actions on behalf of the government; this practice is known as "whistleblowing." Whistleblowers are entitled to a portion of recovered damages in successful actions. They are also entitled to protection from retaliation for taking such actions.
A person or company cannot legally receive undue payments from or avoid payments to the Federal government. The False Claims Act prohibits the following fraudulent actions:
- Knowingly presenting, or causing to be presented a false claim for payment or approval;
- Knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or fraudulent claim;
- Conspiring to commit any violation of the False Claims Act;
- Falsely certifying the type or amount of property to be used by the Government;
- Certifying receipt of property on a document without completely knowing that the information is true;
- Knowingly buying Government property from an unauthorized officer of the Government, and;
- Knowingly making, using, or causing to be made or used a false record to avoid, or decrease an obligation to pay or transmit property to the Government.
The first and second provisions are commonly violated. The majority of cases filed under the False Claims Act involve companies that overcharge the federal government for goods or services.
If you know that your company has committed fraudulent actions as defined by the False Claims Act against the federal government, you may confidentially file a qui tam lawsuit that will not be viewable by the accused party or the general public during the investigation. In the event that you do face retaliation for blowing the whistle on your company, you may sue for additional damages under the Whistleblower Protection Act and even get reinstated into your previous job position.
If your case is successful, you may receive between 15 and 30 percent of the recovered damages, depending on your contribution. The average award is 17 percent. There are factors established by the Department of Justice which determine award amounts based on many considerations. These are referred to as the Relator’s Share Guidelines.
You may feel hesitant to expose your company’s wrongdoing out of fear of losing your job. However, the experienced New York qui tam attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP can protect you against such retaliatory actions from your employer. We can also make sure you receive your due compensation for helping the federal government bring the company to justice. Call our office at (212) 986-7353 to learn more about your rights in a free case evaluation.