In laymen’s terms Qui Tam means whistleblower, and is often viewed as David versus Goliath.
The term refers to an individual who brings forth an action against a company or individual who has defrauded the government. This claim is allowed by the state and federal False Claims Act placing the power to bring these claims into the hands of private citizens. Additionally, whistleblowers have the ability to receive a financial reward, if successful, but individuals should seek legal representation before “blowing the whistle.”
What is a Whistleblower Case?
Evidence of fraud against federal programs is highly illegal and proving these fraudulent acts must be proven with careful consideration. Below are examples of violations under the False Claims Acts:
- An individual, or group of individuals acting jointly, knowingly presenting to the federal government a false or fraudulent claim for payment;
- An individual, or group of individuals acting jointly, knowingly using a false record or statement to get a claim paid by the federal government;
- Conspiring with others to get a false or fraudulent claim paid by the federal government; or
- An individual, or group of individuals acting jointly, using a false record or statement to conceal, avoid, or decrease an obligation to pay money or transmit property to the federal government.
How Do Whistle Blower Cases Work?
When an individual or group files a qui tam accusation, they can rest assured that it is done confidentially. The filing of the qui tam allegation is done under seal and must be kept private until the seal is lifted. Once the claim is filed, it is the responsibility of the government to investigate, interview and obtain as much information regarding the fraudulent accusations. If the government finds value and proof of the claim, they will take action against the wrongdoer. If there is no merit to the case, the case, and its records, will be released from under seal and litigation will follow (like any lawsuit).
What many individuals don’t know is that qui tam, or whistleblowing, has been around since the 1770’s when two naval officers “blew the whistle” on the torturing of British POWs. Since then, there have been thousands of individuals and groups who have made claims against the government or large companies. As of today, we have been made more privy to current whistleblowers in Financial Institutions, Healthcare Organizations, Pharmaceutical Companies, Grant Fraud, Tax Fraud, Defense Contractor Fraud and Election Fraud – information that is spread like wild fire with the help of news stations and social media outlets.
The power of the media has played a major role in whistleblowing since CBS placed whistleblowing in the spotlight with their new television series called “Whistleblowers.”
As more individuals step forward in the fight against corrupt behavior, it is apparent that whistleblowing is a complex and lengthy legal process. Those who take the leap to say “something isn’t right or a major entity is acting unjustly” must be prepared in all capacities – and most importantly from a legal representation standpoint. If you find yourself in a position to bring an action for qui tam, it’s important to organize your facts and hire an attorney before “blowing the whistle.”