Suppose you know that a company is defrauding the government; perhaps it is your place of employment. You believe you have actionable evidence, so you decide to report it and become a whistleblower. The problem is, you aren’t sure what to do or who to talk with after you make this decision.
Whistleblowers are people who protect the public interest. We at the Louthian Law Firm applaud your decision to step forward to shine a light on fraud, and we are here to help. We have some suggestions for preparing your claim so that you will get the results you want.
What Does It Mean to Bring a Whistleblower Claim?
When a person wants to make public a fraudulent activity that has been perpetrated against the government (such as Medicare/Medicaid, IRS, or defense contractor fraud), they will bring what is known as a qui tam suit, meaning you are acting on behalf of the government. The aim is to structure the claim so that the appropriate governmental body intervenes, or joins the suit. The Louthian Law Firm can help you do this.
But first, you must make sure your information is clear and substantive. That means you probably have some work to do before you talk with us, because, as the person with the knowledge of the fraud, you will have to bring us the details of the wrongdoing.
Information Needed to Bring a Claim
The very first thing you should do is to document everything you know about the fraud you want to report. Do so at home or another private location, and back up what you’ve written. If handwritten, make a photocopy. If entered into a computer, store a copy of the file in the cloud or on a flash drive. Keep any backed-up data someplace secure, but do not give it to another person to hold for you (more on this later).
What do you write down? Things to document include:
- The exact nature of the fraudulent activity. Every detail counts, and accuracy is critical, so don’t exaggerate or underplay things. Include all positive and negative information you might have.
- The specific laws or regulations you believe were violated.
- When the activity began.
- When the activity ended (if it has ended).
- The amount of money involved in the fraud, to the best of your knowledge. Document how you arrived at your figure.
- The person or persons involved in the fraud, including their names, their positions in the company, and what they know.
- Whether each of these persons is a current or former employee.
- Whether they are likely to be friendly or hostile witnesses if the case goes to trial.
- A list of supervisors who might have additional information.
- A list of every single file with information that supports your claim. You also need the location of each of these files, including where the file is stored if it is paper, or its electronic location if it is a computer file.
- Whether you personally have been involved in the fraud. Do not lie about this! It is still possible to bring a case even if you were involved in the fraud. The law recognizes that your participation may not have been entirely voluntary.
- The complete organizational structure of the company, from the CEO on down. It is essential that the organizational chart include the whole company, especially the division or divisions involved in the fraud.
While you are in the process of documenting all of this information, do not tell anyone else what you are doing. One of the several reasons not to tip your hand is that only the first person to bring the case will be considered should the case succeed and an award be given.
We realize that it may seem like a lot of information to gather and provide, but remember that your case may be in competition with other cases. Complete and concise information, with relevant details, are critical to gaining the government’s involvement. The more facts you have to support your claim, the more compelling your claim is.
A Special Word About Files
If you do not possess the paper files needed to support your case, and they are in someone else’s office or otherwise off limits to you, do not take files that might jeopardize you, your safety, or your case. There are legal ways to access any needed files. Do not put yourself at risk by taking items that don’t belong to you.
The same goes for accessing electronic files on a private corporate network if you do not have the needed permissions. Do not place yourself in jeopardy.
What Happens Next
Once you have assembled your information and talked with an attorney, and you have decided to move forward, the following steps generally occur in a qui tam case:
- The attorney will prepare your official statement.
- That statement will be filed with the government.
- An official complaint will be created and filed. It will be served along with all the evidence to the government.
- The government decides whether or not it will intervene. If yes, either the case is settled or it goes to trial. If no, you and your attorney will need to decide whether to pursue the case on your own.
When life goes wrong, we fight for what’s right.
If you have knowledge concerning fraud against the government, an experienced whistleblower attorney like the ones at the Louthian Law Firm can assess your case and help you file the necessary disclosure statement. In some instances, the government will intervene (take part in your lawsuit).
One of the most important reasons to contact a qualified whistleblower attorney is that you are much more likely to meet with success if your claim is clear, concise and substantive. The Louthian Law Firm can help you structure your claim in such a way that the government will be more likely to intervene in your case, possibly increasing the chances that you will recover reward money. Even if the government doesn’t decide to intervene, it might still be advisable to pursue your case without government involvement, with our strong support through every step of the process.
For a free, confidential evaluation of your case, call the Louthian Law Firm today at (803) 454-1200 or fill out the online contact form. Louthian Law Firm. Seeking truth. Securing justice.