|The False Claims Act (31 U.S.C.
Sections 3729-33) allows a private individual or "whistleblower",
with knowledge of past or present fraud on the federal government, to sue on
behalf of the government to recover stiff civil penalties and triple damages.
The person bringing the suit is formally known as the "Relator."
If the suit is successful, it not only stops the dishonest conduct, but also deters similar conduct by others and may result in the Relator’s receipt of a substantial share of the government’s ultimate recovery – as much as 30 percent of the total.
The False Claims Act, also called the "Lincoln Act," "Informer’s Act," or the "Qui Tam statute," was enacted during the Civil War. Qui Tam is shorthand for the Latin phrase "qui tam pro domino rege quam pro seipse", meaning "he who sues for the king as for himself." The law was targeted at stopping dishonest suppliers to the Union military at a time when the war effort made it all but impossible for the government to investigate and prosecute the fraud itself. Today it serves a similar purpose because of the enormous size of the federal government and the variety or programs under which it expends taxpayer funds.
More than 4,000 Qui Tam suits have been filed since 1986, when the statute was strengthened to make it easier and more rewarding for private citizens to sue. The government has recovered over $6 billion as a result of the suits, of which over $960 million has been paid to Relators/whistleblowers.
Generally, only the Relator who is the first to file a lawsuit can be rewarded for reporting the fraud. Even if one person uncovers the fraud, someone else can file the lawsuit first and bar the first whistleblower from sharing in any recovery.
If you think you have a case, it is important for you to contact an experienced Qui Tam lawyer right away.