How the False Claims Act Protects You
If you are an IRS fraud whistleblower, or any kind of financial fraud whistleblower, the False Claims Act may protect you from retaliation.
How does it work?
The False Claims Act gives would-be whistleblowers a formal, legal, process by which they may bring their complaints without tipping off their potentially interested employers. A False Claims Act petition must be filed with the United States District Court with jurisdiction over their area, and copies must be given—along with a written list of all potential evidence—to the United States Attorney’s office for your district, and the Attorney General’s office. This information will remain under special seal for 60 days while the government investigates your accusations, and the government can delay the publication of the accusation for as long as it needs to finish conducting its investigation. If the government decides to pursue your claim, it will inform you before removing the seal and prosecuting the case.
And while we would encourage anyone with a potential claim to pursue it, we would also like to offer a note of caution: Cases brought under the False Claims Act are notoriously complicated in terms of both substance and procedure. Hiring an experienced law firm with a substantial presence in federal court is an absolute must for anyone considering pursuing such a claim.
What happens to them?
If the government agency or contractor in question is found to have committed a false claim, that agency or contractor may lose their position or ability to contract for federal work. The offender will also have to pay fines and fees for their infraction. These fines and fees are often substantially more than the cost of the claim itself, and they are meant to be punitive and discouraging. Federal employees implicated in fraudulent activity often lose their jobs, and may be subject to criminal prosecution as well.
What happens to me?
The government wants to encourage whistleblowers to report fraudulent activities that can cost them substantial revenue and credibility. As such, the government offers a reward of up to 30% of the total fines and fees levied against the bad actor. And while there is no set formula for how this award is determined or paid out, it has been substantial in the past.