For A Big Payout – Would You Become A Whistleblower?

Mon, Oct 1, 2012

Financial Advice

Whistleblowers have become a force to be reckoned with in American society. These people see what many consider to be injustices in the world and ensure that the proper authorities know about them. The U.S. False Claims Act actually sets forth the rules regarding those who defraud government programs. Making these rules into law, however, doesn’t really ensure that the government will catch the companies or individuals that are defrauding it. The legislature that passed this law thought ahead in this respect by offering incentives for people who become whistleblowers.

False Claims Act

The False Claims Act was passed during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Its main focus was to impose liability on individuals and companies who defrauded the American Government. The law sets forth rules that allow citizens, often with the aid of whistleblower law firms, and with no relationship to the government whatsoever, to file an action on behalf of the government against the entity that is committing the fraud. This complaint stays sealed and the defendant is not notified about its existence until the U.S. Attorney General decides to unseal it.

Many whistleblowers would rather ignore an ongoing crime of this sort as opposed to facing the consequences related to being what many consider a ‘rat’. Knowing this, the government ensured that the False Claims Act included a reward for whistleblowers. The individuals that file these suits on behalf of the U.S. Government stand to make thirty percent of whatever settlement the government receives from the case. The majority of people get between fifteen and twenty-five percent, but in many cases these percentages can lead to a reward of millions of dollars.

Pros & Cons of Whistleblowing

There are a few obvious advantages that come with being a whistleblower. The thirty percent reward from the settlement reached by the government is one that would lead many people to relish in the idea of becoming a whistleblower. There are also people who do it simply because it is the right thing to do. ‘Blowing the whistle’ is also a respectable way for a person to remove themselves from a potentially illegal scheme that they may have accidentally gotten caught up in. Whether these benefits outweigh the consequences or not is a decision left to the individual.

There are several negative consequences that could follow becoming a whistleblower. One of the main things that often vilify a whistleblower is the appearance of greed. Many people believe these individuals are bringing forth actions solely for the financial gain involved. A person can also easily lose friends in a whistleblowing scenario. If the whistleblower works at the company that is committing fraud, then they likely have several friends who also work at the company. Some of these friends could lose their jobs if the company is seriously financially damaged due to the investigation. Even if a person has done the right thing, it is hard for someone to keep a friend after causing them their job.

Any person who decides to become a whistleblower is taking a few chances by doing so. They could lose their job, friends and the respect of people around them. They are, on the other hand, providing a vital public service that most people see as vital unless they’re the ones implicated in the fraud. The False Claims Act ensures that those who defraud the government are held accountable, but one way or the other, it is usually the life of the whistleblower that changes forever.

Georgina Clatworthy is a writer and former legal editor.  She is currently a contributing writer for Goldberg Kohn.  If you are looking at whistleblower law firms, this firm has many years experience in handling cases under the False Claims Act.  Their attorneys will be able to advise you on making a claim, as well as ensuring your rights are fully protected should your claim proceed.

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