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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.

Top 3 Examples of False Claims Act Violations and Penalties

False Claims Act Violations

False Claims Act ViolationsIf you are seeking information about False Claims Act Violations, it will help to have some real life examples about these violations and penalties. Before we get into those, let’s get a basic understanding of what the False Claims Act is:

  • The Act, also known as the Lincoln Law, was created in 1863 under Abraham Lincoln’s administration, to expose fraud and profiteering during the Civil War.
  • It allowed people to expose others who made a false claim against the government.
  • The Act provided protection from retaliation actions such as job loss or other damages.
  • In 1989, the Qui Tam Law was added, allowing private citizens to sue on behalf of the US government, keeping a percentage (usually 15-30%) of the recovered money for themselves.

How Are False Claims Act Violations Investigated?

The Qui Tam Law allows for a private citizen to bring evidence of a violation to the government, to request they investigate the allegation and potentially join the lawsuit. The Qui Tam is a civil suit. The investigation is confidential. Not even the person or organization under investigation is informed of the probe.

This confidentiality allows the US Justice Department to investigate the allegations with no harm or repercussions to either party. Once the inquiry is complete, the government decides if they will intervene. If the federal government chooses not to go forward with the action, the private citizen (and their attorney) may continue on their own. The chance of success is much higher when the government is a party to the lawsuit.

Who Are the Top False Claims Act Violators?

Qui Tam Law is used to bring some of the violators to justice, including Medicare and Medicaid Fraud, prescription drug fraud, and defense contractor fraud. These three areas commit the most violations of the False Claims Act. In fact, of the highest paid settlements on record, nine of the top ten involve the health care or prescription drug industries.

For the fiscal year ending September 2015, the top violator by far was the healthcare industry, accounting for nearly half of the $3.5 billion recovered in False Claims Act violations. Charges included inadequate or unnecessary medical procedures and treatments, kickbacks to medical providers and overcharging for Medicare/Medicaid programs. The government recovered $1.9 billion in these health care violations.

Some of the largest violations occur in the area of prescription drugs. The FDA authorizes all prescription drugs for specific uses and conditions. A doctor may make a decision to use a drug for a different condition than its original use. This prescribing is known as an off-label use of the medication and does not violate any law.

However, the drug manufacturer may not promote the drug for an off-label use. Doing so is a violation of the False Claims Act. Any kickback or benefit offered to a doctor, by a drug manufacturer is considered evidence of the breach.

Drug manufacturers are also in violation if healthcare providers receive kickbacks for prescribing certain drugs. While providing samples or referring patients can be done, doing so to provide a payback for prescribing certain drugs is fraud and is provided for under the False Claims Act and Qui Tam Law.

Other top offenders include government contract workers. Cases of government contractors who fail to fulfill the requirements of the contract yet bill for the fulfillment of the deal are standard. These violations can include substituting lower quality materials than what is required or failing to perform quality assurance checks.

Government contract violations include the implicit agreement to provide what the contract states, without substitution. Even if the substitution is of equal quality, it is not allowed and is a violation.

Contract violations include actions such as inflating bids with false information, awarding bids based on falsified information, and failing to comply with contracts available only to minority-owned businesses, female-owned businesses, or small businesses.

How Large Can the Penalties Be for False Claims Act Violations?

Penalties for False Claim Act violations can be astronomical, with the largest on record against pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline who paid out $3 billion in civil and criminal penalties. Some of this money was then passed onto the whistleblowers in each case. There were several cases involved that included the company pleading guilty to falsifying and fabricating research, bribing doctors with luxury vacations and of providing marketing kits packed with unproven claims, specifically regarding nine different drugs.

False Claims Act violations come from employees working for and with the violators. They have first-hand knowledge. One of the most important reasons to report false claims is for your own protection. All investigations, under the Qui Tam Law, are kept sealed. If your place of employment is under scrutiny, your position in the company could make you complicit. By coming forward with the information, you are protecting yourself from being inadvertently charged as part of the fraud.

If you think you have information regarding a False Claims Act violation, the best first step is to call an attorney who is informed and experienced in Qui Tam Law cases. These laws are influx on a regular basis, so choose lawyers who committed and dedicated to this type of work and up-to-date on any changes. Call (770) 643-1606 to find out more about False Claims Act violations by contacting Bothwell Law Group online.