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9 Tips for Whistleblowers from Experienced Qui Tam Law Firms

experienced Qui Tam Law Firms

experienced Qui Tam Law FirmsWhy should you go to an experienced qui tam law firm when you are building a whistleblower case? When you need to get something done right, you want advice from the experts, right? If you’re looking to invest in stocks, you find a Wall Street broker for the best tips. If you’re redecorating your home, you call a top designer. If you’re building a whistleblower case, you look to experienced qui tam law firms for tips.

Are you considering a whistleblower case? Keep in mind these nine tips from Bothwell Law Group:

1. Get a qualified attorney.

The single most important thing you can do as a whistleblower is to hire an experienced attorney. You need a lawyer familiar with the whistleblower laws and one who is familiar with the entire process. Not only can a good attorney help you determine if you have a whistleblower case, but he will keep your best interests in mind throughout the whole process.

Your employer will look out for their protection, and the government’s prime concern is the recovery of the assets fraudulently taken from them. Hire a qualified attorney who knows all the ins and outs of whistleblowing to help you protect your job and recover your reward.

2. Keep copies.

When you bring evidence of the fraud to either your employers or to the attorney general, make sure you keep copies of everything. You may never need them, but if you do, they’re invaluable. Also, keep copies of any positive remarks about your employment, such as reviews and recommendations. These are important if your employer attempts any retaliation disguised as a work performance issue.

3. Document everything.

If you’re considering building a whistleblower case, it’s imperative to document everything you can. Keep track of dates, conversations between involved parties, appointments that might be pertinent and anything else that might be related to the fraud. Keep a hard copy of everything, not just a digital copy. If your only documentation is on the computer and something happens to your hard drive, you will be left with nothing

4. Report to authorities promptly.

Once you’ve determined that fraud is going on, you need to report it, face to face, to the attorney general of your state. There are statutes of limitations for whistleblower cases. Also, only the original reporter is eligible for a reward. By delaying too long, you are taking the chance of someone else reporting the activity, and you lose any opportunity for the reward of up to 15%-25% of the amount of money recovered.

5. Save some cash.

Whistleblower laws protect you against any retaliation at your job. According to the law, you cannot be fired or passed over for promotions or wage increases. Harassment, in any way, including a change in hours, benefits or status, is against the law. Although the law is clear, that doesn’t mean your employer won’t try to dismiss you, forcing you to fight legally to get it back. If you can save some money before moving ahead with your suit, you will eliminate a significant amount of stress.

6. Keep it quiet.

Whistleblower cases are kept under seal while the government investigates the case. The seal means everything is kept anonymous and private. You are not allowed to discuss any of the particulars of your case, or even the fact that an investigation is taking place. Don’t risk the situation by speaking about it to the press or anyone else until the court seal is removed.

7. Be specific.

You’ve heard the adage about the three most important things in real estate being location, location, location. In a whistleblower case, it could be said the three most important things are specifics, specifics, specifics. Keep track of exact dates, timecards, participants in phone conversations or meetings, dollar amounts, billing dates, and any other details you have. The more specifics you provide, the tighter your case will be.

8. Be careful about whom you trust.

Whistleblowing is not something to take lightly. It’s a matter of felony fraud at a federal level, which can mean serious prison time and hefty fines if proven to be false reporting. Many times, the scam involves a significant number of people cooperating for a payoff. Be extremely careful whom you trust – especially at your job. You can’t be sure who might a part of the illegal activities – or who might blow the whistle on you and your suspicions. Make certain that what you think is happening actually is. Get copies of evidence and keep them offsite, never at work.

9. Don’t sign anything.

You may decide to bring your allegations to your employer before you go to an attorney. Many companies have specific procedures set up for reporting fraudulent activity or any other criminal behavior. Should you choose to do this, make sure you do not sign anything indicating an agreement to refrain from a lawsuit or showing any financial compensation in return for dropping the allegations. Not only will this eliminate any possibility of you receiving your rightful share of the recovered money, but it could also implicate you legally. Don’t sign anything until you show it to your attorney.

It’s possible to build a compelling qui tam case resulting in both knowing you helped right a wrong and receiving a potentially substantial reward. The first step is finding a law firm that knows how to help you. Visit us Bothwell Law Group online to learn more about the benefits of working with experienced qui tam law firms.

The Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Qui Tam Suits Before You Proceed

Qui Tam Suits

Qui Tam SuitsIf you are considering blowing the whistle on unethical or fraudulent activities, you are likely aware of qui tam suits. A qui tam lawsuit is brought by an individual who possesses knowledge of the fraudulent activity and brings a lawsuit on behalf of the government to recover stolen funds. Once the government has conducted its own investigation, it can choose to join the litigation.

What Is a Qui Tam lawsuit?

Qui tam suits (pronounced ‘kwee tom’ or ‘kee tam’) are suits brought up under the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act. Unlike most lawsuits where the party bringing the suit has been injured in some fashion, qui tam suits are brought by an individual who has not been directly harmed by fraudulent behavior

The individual bringing the suit -referred to as a ‘relator’- is encouraged by the government to come forward with information about fraud levied against the government. This allows the government to conduct its own investigation, and potentially to recover stolen funds should it decide to join in on the relator’s lawsuit.

If this litigation is successful, the relator is often entitled to a small cut of the funds recovered by the government; this is due to the government not being aware of the fraud had the relator not come forward.

What Types of Cases Qualify as Qui Tam?

Under the False Claims Act, individuals and companies who defraud the government are liable for the amounts they are unlawfully paid. With very few exceptions, contractors are liable for fraud involving federal programs and contracts. This can include the following:

  • Improper billing for Medicaid or Medicare. This can include overbilling and billing for services, procedures, or equipment that were not rendered.
  • Overcharging for goods or services that were provided under a government contract.
  • Requesting payment for goods and services not provided.
  • ‘Off-label’ marketing of FDA-approved drugs. ‘Off-Label’ refers to prescribing medications to treat health issues they were not designed to address, nor tested to treat by the FDA.
  • Grant recipients who charge the government for expenses not related to the grant rewarded.
  • Accounting fraud.
  • Bribing of foreign officials.
  • Manipulation in trading of securities or commodities.

Qui Tam – What Does It Mean to be a Whistleblower?

A whistleblower, also known as a ‘relator’, is an individual who has witnessed fraudulent activity and chooses to report it to the government. Unlike the way it’s depicted in television and movies, anyone from any background can blow the whistle on companies who are defrauding the government. However, becoming a whistleblower and going public with accusations of fraudulent behavior can adversely affect a person’s professional and personal lives, so it should be approached cautiously with the advice of an attorney.

Call (770) 643-1606 to find out more about qui tam suits by contacting Bothwell Law Group online.

The Most Common Qui Tam Actions and Why You Should Know About Them

Qui Tam Actions

Qui Tam ActionsIf you don’t have the slightest idea what qui tam actions are, don’t worry; we will break it down for you in this blog post. To understand qui tam, we first have to have a basic understanding of the False Claims Act (FCA.) Essentially, the FCA is a law that says it is a crime for any person or organization to attempt to defraud the U.S. government by submitting, or being involved in the submission of, false or fraudulent claims, documents or statements, in an attempt to receive payment or to lower or eliminate an obligation to make payments to the government.

The qui tam provisions in the FCA encourage whistleblowers to come forward and to bring to light any actual or suspected violations of the FCA’s provisions. The qui tam statute was added to the existing law in 1986. Basically, qui tam actions are actions brought in federal court by private citizens against individuals or organizations that are suspected of having violated the False Claims Act (FCA.)

In some cases, these private citizens are then entitled to recover up to 30% of the total damages recovered in the case, in addition to recovering payment for their legal fees, and being afforded protection under the FCA for retaliatory actions taken by their employer (or former employer). The government can choose to intervene in a qui tam action, joining as a party. If the government decides not to intervene, the private citizen can still continue the action alone.

What Are the Most Common Qui Tam Actions?

Although there are many reasons for filing FCA qui tam actions, most of them fall under one or more of the following circumstances:

  • Knowingly submitting false or fraudulent records or statements to the government.
  • Knowingly submitting false benefit certifications to the government.
  • Knowingly overcharging or mischarging the government.
  • Intentionally billing the government for services not provided. Many of these claims often arise from billings related to medical services for which the patient was billed for more expensive services not received.
  • Submitting Reverse False c Traditional FCA claims are filed because a person or organization filed a false record, document or statement in order to fraudulently obtain payment from the government. In a reverse false claim, a person or organization filed a false record, document or statement in order to “conceal, avoid or decrease an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government.” (31 USC § 3729(a)(7).
  • Other actions that lead to stealing from, cheating or defrauding the g

Are Qui Tam Actions Limited to Current Employees?

No! A qui tam action can be filed by anyone who has knowledge of or information about a false or fraudulent claim or statement having been provided to the government in an attempt to obtain payment, or to decrease an obligation to pay. If you think you might have a case, it’s best to schedule a consultation with an experienced qui tam attorney who can help you determine whether you should move forward.

Qui tam actions are often filed by current employees of a company accused of violating the FCA, but these actions are not limited to current employees. Other parties often include former employees, subcontractors or temporary employees, competitors, employees of state, local or federal governments as individuals, state and local government employees on behalf of their government employer, corporations, private organizations and public interest groups.

As long as the individual bringing the qui tam action has knowledge of wrongdoing, they can blow the whistle and bring suit on the government’s behalf. Making the decision about whether to file a case can be rather involved. There are considerations you may not be aware of on your own, but your attorney can help you understand what’s at stake, what to expect, and what you might stand to gain if your case is successful.

When Should You Involve an Attorney?

If you are considering filing a qui tam action against your employer, it is important to talk to an experienced whistleblower attorney who can help you evaluate the strengths and merits of your claim. You should also talk to an attorney if you have brought your concerns to your employer’s attention already and have been the victim of any sort of harassment or other retaliatory action. You don’t have to go through this alone.

Find out what you need to know about protection against qui tam actions by calling 770.643.1606. The experienced fraud attorneys at Bothwell Law Group work exclusively on whistleblower and qui tam actions and will advocate vigorously for you.