Here’s what to expect if you become a whistleblower for fraudulent defense contractor claims.
Even with the government keeping a close eye on things, there is never a shortage of fraudulent defense contractor claims. While most contractors perform a task honestly and to the best of their ability, some cheat the system. You may find out this information before the government does. If you find yourself in this situation, you may want to report the fraudulent activity. Before you do, make sure you know what to expect once you blow the whistle.
Type of Fraudulent Defense Contractor Claims
The government hires numerous contractors to perform specific duties. Some contracts go to large corporations, like Boeing and Lockheed. The government also contracts smaller businesses for certain tasks, including janitorial services. Contractors supply the country with the tools it needs to operate. This includes everything from airplanes and missiles to office furniture. Reports show that the United States government spends about $500 billion per year on contracts.
While the government thoroughly vets every contractor, it can’t completely stop fraud. Both large and small contractors may commit fraudulent acts, costing taxpayers a hefty sum. Some examples of defense contractor fraud include:
- Over-billing or cross charging
- Providing services or products that do not meet agreed upon standards
- Failure to inform of product defects
- Product substitution without consent
A government contractor is legally obligated to provide and charge only for the services stated in the contract. Steering away from these terms is illegal and a form of fraud.
How to Report Fraudulent Contractor Activity
If you become aware of contractor fraud, you may feel inclined to report it. After all, taxpayers must fund excess government excess spending. Before you spill the beans, however, you must consider several things.
Fraudulent activity often involves many people or entities. You never know if the person you once trusted is part of the scheme or not. While you may want to inform your boss or coworker of your findings, this may not be wise. Whistleblowers often deal with retaliation after coming forward. It’s best to trust no one until the investigation is complete.
The Department of Defense has a hotline for citizens to report fraud. They will evaluate your claim and look into the matter. But just because you report something doesn’t mean it will get resolved. Investigations often take years to complete. You may find yourself dealing with legal issues for a long time.
Protections Provided to Whistleblowers
You may feel afraid to come forward after learning of fraudulent behavior. While it’s true that being a whistleblower isn’t easy, it’s necessary. Authorities have been able to solve many defense contractor cases because of a whistleblower. Yes, it’s not an easy job. But, knowing you’re helping the government and citizens often makes it worth the risk.
Because the government wants you to come forward with information, it protects whistleblowers. The False Claims Act allows private citizens to sue federal contractors on behalf of the government.
The False Claims Act also protects whistleblowers. It makes it illegal for affected parties to seek retaliation against the relator. This includes harassing, demoting, firing, or threatening the whistleblower. If someone violates the False Claims Act, the victim has the right to take legal action.
The Benefits of Reporting DOJ Contractor Fraud
Being a whistleblower also comes with some benefits. First and foremost, you may help prevent injury or loss of life. Yes, it’s that serious. If a contractor sells the DOJ faulty equipment, it may end up harming the troops. If a product makes it to the general public, civilian casualties may occur as a result.
The government also offers monetary compensation to whistleblowers. If your information leads to a conviction, you will receive a percentage of the settlement. This may equal millions of dollars depending on the complexity of the case.
Never Report Defense Contractor Fraud Alone
Before you decide to come forward with any information, you need to retain a lawyer who has experience with defense contractor fraud. These cases can get very complicated. As soon as the information becomes public, you will become a target. Consider hiring a lawyer before you make your initial report.
A lawyer will make sure you’re aware of your rights as a whistleblower. If you become the victim of retaliation, a lawyer will help you seek recourse. While you may want to speak with journalists or media outlets, you shouldn’t contact anyone before speaking with an attorney. Others may want to take advantage of you, but an attorney will help you make wise decisions.
If you have information about possible DOJ contractor fraud, don’t try to navigate the system alone. You may find yourself in over your head if you don’t have legal representation. Find out more about fraudulent defense contractor claims by contacting Bothwell Law Group online.