There is a Federal False Claims Act relating to fraud against the federal government and numerous states also have their own False Claims Act. The False Claims Act allows private citizens to file a lawsuit against those that commit fraud against federal or state government programs. The False Claims Act contains a qui tam or whistleblower provisions that allows citizens with evidence of fraud relating to government contracts and programs to sue, on behalf of the government in order to recover the defrauded funds.
In short, a qui tam lawsuit can be brought by a citizen, known as a “relator” or whistleblower against a company, person or entity that he or she knows is cheating the federal or state government in some way. The False Claims Act covers fraud involving any federal or state-funded contractor program with the exception of tax fraud. A separate IRS whistleblower program covers federal tax fraud. Various types of fraud against the government are covered under the False Claims Act including health care fraud including frauds committed against the Medicaid and Medicare programs; pharmaceutical fraud; government contractor and procurement fraud relating to contractors who provide services and/or products to the government; fraud against the Department of Defense and the government relating to military contracts.
In compensation for the risk and effort of filing a qui tam case, the whistleblower or the “relator” under the False Claims Act may be awarded 15-30 percent of the funds recovered. The False Claims Act also provides protection and financial recovery for any relator who is discharged, suspended, threatened, harassed or in any manner discriminated against relating to the relator’s actions to uncover and expose fraud upon the government.
It is also important to note that in May of 2011, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officially adopted new rules that provide incentives as well as protection for whistleblowers who report violations of securities laws. A person who supplies original information that leads to a successful enforcement by the SEC can receive between 10-30 percent of monetary sanctions if exceeding $1 Million.