In order for your False Claims Act complaint to have the best chance of intervention from the government, it’s critical to take the correct measures as you move through the reporting process. First, let’s cover what makes up a False Claims Act complaint and then address the necessary steps you should take to file your complaint.
What Is a False Claims Act Complaint?
The False Claims Act allows private citizens to bring a lawsuit against individuals or businesses that have defrauded the federal government. The government files the case in US District Court under seal and then determines whether or not the evidence is sufficient for them to intervene in the case. If they decide there is just cause for the complaint, the government will take over the prosecution. If the fraud is proven, then the person who brought the case forward can receive up to 15-30% of the damages recovered by the government.
What’s the First Step in Filing a False Claims Act Complaint?
Because the process to winning a False Claims Act complaint is complicated, the first step you should take is to find an experienced attorney. You need to choose an attorney who has tried False Claims Act charges and won in court. One of the most important parts of a valid False Claims Act complaint is presenting the right kind of evidence to convince the government to intervene in the case.
It is critical to know there is a statute of limitations for filing a False Claims Act complaint. The law says you have six years from the time of the fraud to file. The time limit runs from the date the government paid the fraudulent claim. Certain types of fraud have different limitations, so make certain you file the complaint promptly. Your attorney will need to make sure you are within the statute for your particular situation.
Additionally, one of the first things your attorney needs to determine is whether anyone else has made the same claim you have about the company in question. Only the first person who files a False Claims Act case with an allegation of fraud is allowed to continue as the recognized “whistleblower.” The whistleblower is the only one who can receive a portion of the recovery as a reward.
When your attorney files your False Claims Act complaint in the US District Court, the government seals the file and then conducts an investigation. The seal means the case and the investigation are kept confidential and secret. The original seal is for 60 days but is usually extended for months while the inquiry is carried out. The accused has no idea there is a complaint against them while the investigators search the facts.
The conditions of the seal also mean you must keep the details of the case, as well as the fact that the charges exist, confidential. At the end of the investigation, the government decides whether they will intervene in the case or not. If the government decides to intervene, this means they take over the prosecution of the case.
What Evidence Does My False Claims Act Complaint Need?
There are several things your false claims attorney needs to bring a complaint to the US District Court:
- Your attorney must be able to show your employer’s role in the fraud.
- You must have evidence showing when the fraud took place.
- Because the statute of limitations begins from the time the government pays the claim, you need proof of this payment.
- You need to have exact dates when the fraudulent acts took place.
- You need to be able to identify who made the false claims and where the fraud happened.
- You need to show how you found out about the fraud. Your information is critical to the case, so it must be proven to be correct and reliable. Other questions will include whether this information is public knowledge and whether your employer is aware you know and are making a claim.
Your evidence can be in the form of emails, sales receipts, vouchers, invoices, sales records, and more. They may be in hard copy form, but the best evidence is if you can prove it is in the database of the company. If you can make copies onto a removable CD or flash drive, it is always best to store the evidence off company property. That way, you can protect it from being changed or erased.
You and your attorney must carefully prepare each step of the False Claims Act complaint and back up all of it with substantial evidence. If the case is solid, it influences the government to intervene, and they will take up the cost and the burden of prosecuting the case. Most False Claims Act complaints are decided in motions and negotiations. Having the US Attorney’s office on your side can only benefit you. Having an attorney who is well versed in this type of litigation can increase the percentage of reward you receive.
Taking your case all the way from filing a complaint to reaping a reward can feel like a journey of a lifetime, but if you are ready to take the first step with your whistleblower case, contact the skilled False Claims Act complaint attorneys at Bothwell Law Group by calling 770.643.1606 today.