There are a wide range of programs, known as “qui tam” programs, that give the whistleblower a share of any money the government gets back from the people or companies that were breaking the law, and designed to protect whistleblowers from retaliation.
False Claims Act
Passed during the Civil War to stop companies from selling fraudulent supplies to the Union Army, the False Claims Act (also called the “FCA”) allows whistleblowers to file a case in court on behalf of the government when the whistleblower knows the government has been cheated of payment or unfairly charged.
Most of today’s FCA cases involve healthcare fraud. We spend a lot of money on healthcare in this country and that makes healthcare fraud a tempting target for crooks. Drug companies lying about the safety or efficacy of their medicines, medical device manufacturers paying kickbacks to doctors to recommend their products, physicians and hospitals ordering medically unnecessary tests, labs, or surgeries because they profit from providing these services—these are all examples of recent whistleblower cases.
The FCA goes beyond healthcare, however. Construction companies overcharging the government for buildings, roads or bridges, big companies pretending to be small businesses or to have minority ownership to win contracts, or banks charging illegal fees or selling fraudulent investments to government pension funds have all been successfully prosecuted under the FCA. And just like back in the Civil War days, dishonest contractors do still try to sell shoddy equipment to the U.S. Military.
Private Insurance Whistleblower Fraud
In California and Illinois, whistleblowers can report fraud that cheats private insurance companies, not just the U.S. government.
IRS Whistleblower Program
The IRS Whistleblower Program allows private citizens to blow the whistle on federal tax fraud that exceeds $2 million. If you know of an individual or company claiming fake expenses, hiding income using bogus tax shelters or illegal offshore bank accounts/shell corporations, or pretending to earn their profits in low-tax countries, the IRS Whistleblower Program lets you speak out and share any potential rewards.
SEC/CFTC Whistleblower Programs
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law created two new whistleblower programs: the SEC/CFTC Whistleblower Programs protect whistleblowers aware of wrongdoing affecting the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
SEC whistleblower protection generally applies to accounting fraud that affects the value of a stock, fraudulent marketing or misrepresentation during the sale of securities, illegal fees, profit-skimming or front-running of trades, bribing foreign officials to win resource rights or contracts (violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act), and Ponzi schemes.
The CFTC regulates financial instruments like futures, options, and swaps, the trading of agricultural products, oil and minerals, and transactions with foreign currency, foreign government securities, and foreign stock indices. When companies attempt to corner a market or manipulate key indicators or run Ponzi schemes using items under CTFC purview, whistleblowers can use the CFTC program.
Auto Safety Whistleblower Program
Created in 2015, the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower program allows employees and contractors of auto manufacturers, parts suppliers, or dealerships to blow the whistle when they know of products or safety violations that risk death or serious physical injury.
Remember when Honda had to recall hundreds of thousands of vehicles because of faulty Takata airbags? Or when GM installed faulty ignition switches or Toyota discovered “sticky” gas pedals that would accidentally accelerate vehicles? Whistleblowers who are able to prove the companies know of dangers like that and don’t notify the public can save lives (and got a share of the significant rewards).
Tim McCormack, a False Claims Act expert, has firsthand experience with most major whistleblower protection programs. Call 207-747-7639 or submit a case evaluation form to schedule a free, no-obligation, and completely confidential whistleblowing case review today.