Qui Tam & Federal False Claims
The Federal False Claims Act and its state counterparts offer an effective means to redress corruption against the government by rewarding whistleblowers for their knowledge of the false claims. Federal False Claims, also referred to as “Qui Tam” cases, are a powerful way for whistleblowers to help the government stop various kinds of fraud such as Medicare, Medicaid, defense contractor fraud, and numerous other types of fraud that impact the government financially.
The Federal False Claims Act
The Federal False Claims Act initially was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War to help stop fraud against the government. Since then, the law has been revamped and many changes have been made to make this law more effective in encouraging whistleblowers to come forward. The False Claims Act helps stop fraud against the government by protecting and rewarding whistleblowers for providing information to the government.
31 states have enacted their own version of the False Claims Act. Illinois is one of these states that has enacted a version, called the Illinois False Claims Act. The Illinois False Claims Act accomplishes the same purpose as the Federal False Claims Act, which both have very similar provisions and guidelines.
What Is Considered Fraud Under The False Claims Act?
There are four basic provisions set forth in the False Claims Act that would be considered a violation of the law. They include:
False Claims: A person or entity that presents a false claim for payment (submitting a claim with false or fraudulent information)
False Statements: Creating, using, or causing false records to assist with a fraudulent or false claim
Conspiracy: Conspiring (or planning) to commit false claims and/or statements
Reverse False Claims: A person or business received funds from the government but some of the funds should be returned
Qui Tam Cases: Who Are Relators?
Plaintiffs in Qui Tam lawsuits are called relators. Relators are not only protected under the law from retaliation but may also be eligible to receive an award of anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of the funds recovered by the government.
Once an individual has evidence of fraud against the government and decides to “blow the whistle,” that person should immediately find a lawyer trained in this area of the law. The state and federal False Claims Acts contain “first to file” provisions that reward the early reporting of false claims. This creates what has been referred to as a “race to the courthouse.” The second person to report the same fraudulent information likely will receive zero reward. Therefore, potential relators should not sit on valid claims because others may beat them to it.
It is also important for realtors to keep their information confidential until after the government has unsealed the case. A qui tam lawsuit is filed “under seal,” meaning that it is kept a secret from everyone but the government to give the Department of Justice time to investigate the allegations. Even the person or entity being accused of fraud is not told about the qui tam case until it is unsealed. The False Claims Act states that a qui tam case will be sealed for 60 days, but courts generally extend the seal multiple times to give the government enough time to investigate the allegations to decide whether to join the case. Government investigations can take years. Often times, if the government joins or intervenes, the case is resolved through settlement negotiations rather than a trial.
Contact Us Today
If you have information concerning fraud committed against the government, it is critical that you contact an attorney with experience handling qui tam lawsuits. The attorneys at McDonald & Kloth, LLC have successfully represented qui tam clients individually and with government intervention. Our attorneys understand that success with these cases is largely dependent on a thorough investigation prior to presenting the case to the government. If you or anyone you know has information about a fraud being perpetrated against the government, you should immediately contact McDonald & Kloth, LLC for a free initial consultation.