If you are aware of a company that has defrauded the federal government, Haas Law can help you report the fraud and potentially earn a large financial reward.
Under the False Claims Act, whistleblowers with knowledge or evidence of a company cheating the federal government out of money can report the fraud and receive a monetary award. Common whistleblower cases involve companies that have cheated the government in contracts and procurement, healthcare billing, and banking and financial service businesses.
Haas Law can help you determine if you have a good whistleblower claim. All you need to do is take just a few minutes to call or email us for a free and completely confidential discussion about your potential claim.
Who Can Be A Whistleblower?
Anyone. If you are someone who is aware of fraud being committed against the federal government, you can bring a whistleblower lawsuit under the False Claims Act to help the government recover the money. With the help of an experienced attorney, a whistleblower can earn a substantial financial reward for bringing a valid claim and assisting the government in recovering the lost funds.
There are a few threshold questions to ask yourself to see if you can be a whistleblower.
1. Is the federal government (not a private company) being defrauded?
- A “false claim” occurs when someone cheats the federal government out of money (ie. not paying the government money that they owe or submitting fraudulent invoices for payment)
- A whistleblower can only recover a reward under the False Claims Act if he or she can point to a specific “false claim” made against the federal government.
- A case involving billing fraud against a private insurance company or some other private business, while possibly criminal, is not a “false claim” that will entitle you to a whistleblower award.
2. Did any of the fraud occur within the last six years?
3. Is the total amount of money the federal government lost as a result of this fraud at least $500,000?
4. Is this fraud still unknown to the government?
- You generally cannot bring a whistleblower claim if the fraud was disclosed to the government by someone else or if the fraud is already public knowledge.
5. Do you have any documents or data to show that this fraud occurred? Or did you or someone you know witness the fraud in some way?
- Generally, the more evidence you have to prove a fraud, the better your claim will be. Haas Law will use the evidence you have to prepare the lawsuit before meeting with the government to discuss the case. The meeting between Haas Law and the government is called a “disclosure meeting” or a “written disclosure” and is the first step in getting the government interested in pursuing the case and giving you a whistleblower award.
- It is always helpful if you have personal knowledge of the fraud and have some type of evidence that supports your allegation. Be careful collecting evidence. You are not a government agent so do not break any laws collecting evidence.
- The best way to collect evidence to prove the fraud is to let an experienced attorney advise you about gathering evidence.
If you were able to answer “yes” or even “I don’t know” to these simple questions, you can be a successful whistleblower and earn a substantial reward.
Some examples of conduct subject to the FCA are where the government is being defrauded are whether a private company:
- Charged the federal government for products or services that the company did not actually provide;
- Used money provided by the federal government in an unauthorized manner;
- Done something that may have violated a government contract to provide goods or services (like using substandard products or unqualified employees); or
- Failed to pay money that it owes to the federal government (like customs duties, over-payments).
If so, the next step is to contact Haas Law to discuss your potential claim in complete confidence. We will give you our opinion about the merits of your claim, advise you of any potential risks or concerns, and help you file a compelling lawsuit that will persuade the government to act on your claim so that you can recover the maximum monetary award allowed under the law.
One of the most critical factors in a whistleblower lawsuit is being “first to file.” This means, if someone else has secretly filed a lawsuit before yours and it covers the same conduct, your award could be substantially reduced. As a result, time is of the essence and a having a sense of urgency is critical.
How Do I File a Whistleblower Lawsuit?
1. Hire an experienced whistleblower attorney.
If you have information that a company is cheating the government, and you think you may be interested in pursuing a whistleblower lawsuit, it is smart to go ahead and contact an attorney with experience in whistleblower lawsuits and the False Claims Act. An experienced attorney will be able to tell you whether you have the type of information that would qualify you as a whistleblower under the law. A qualified attorney will help you prepare and file a persuasive lawsuit and arrange for the government to review it. An attorney should also be able to give you an idea of how much money you may be able to recover for reporting the fraud.
If you choose Haas Law, you will not be asked to pay any costs up front. We will cover all the costs and expenses and only receive a fee if you are later given a monetary award by the government at the end of the case. Our fee will be based on a percentage of your award. If the lawsuit is unsuccessful, then you do not owe us anything for our time or the expenses we incur in helping you pursue the claim.
2. File a whistleblower complaint under seal.
A “qui tam” lawsuit is filed in the appropriate federal district court. The complaint in a qui tam lawsuit is filed “under seal”, meaning that the company committing the fraud will not be alerted to the lawsuit directly and the government will be served with the complaint instead. After the sealed lawsuit is filed, you and your attorney are prohibited from discussing the case with anyone but the government. Any improper communications by you, or even an accidental disclosure of the lawsuit, could harm the government’s investigation and result in the case being dismissed. A dismissal would eliminate your opportunity to be financially compensated.
During the government’s investigation, it will conduct all appropriate interviews and gather and analyze evidence. During this time, the company will not be served a copy of your lawsuit and it will remain under seal.
Be patient. Depending on the complexity of the investigation, it can take anywhere from a few months to a few years for the government to decide whether to accept the case (or “intervene”) in the lawsuit on your behalf.
3. Assist the government with their investigation.
After the sealed complaint is filed, the government will investigate the case and ultimately decide whether or not to intervene. If the government intervenes and joins your lawsuit, the chances of recovery are usually improved.
Haas Law has an important role in this process. Drafting a detailed lawsuit and supporting it with credible evidence is only part of your attorney’s responsibilities. Your attorney should keep close contact with the government attorneys, offering advice and assistance during their investigation. While the government runs the show, a good whistleblower lawyer knows how to stay involved and support an investigation without stepping on anyone’s toes.
When, and if, the government decides to intervene affects the amount of any whistleblower award. As a general rule, the more work you and your attorney do, the more money you will make if the case is successfully resolved.
Whistleblower cases are routinely filled with numerous delays, extensions and extended deadlines. Hopefully, your information, your patience and your attorney’s diligence will pay off. If the case is settled or won at trial, the whistleblower is entitled to a portion of the money the government is able to recover.
These cases can be extremely lucrative for whistleblowers. A company who has cheated the government can be held responsible for three times the amount of money they took or failed to pay, plus hefty fines. This brings awards in the millions of dollars. In cases where the government has intervened, the whistleblower will be entitled to 15%-25% of the amount recovered. The exact share will be negotiated between the whistleblower attorney and the government.